E! The Drones

November 10, 2010

War-making equipment down through history has on many occasions been transferred to civilian uses, some of these shifts have been bad, some good and some creepy-dangerous.
George Orwell would blow chunks nowadays at the direction military technology is taking, making an eye in the sky a normal every-day part of modern life.

(Illustration found here).

Use of drones — unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — have been in the news for years, President Obama and the US war machine makes much hay in Afghanistan and Pakistan, killing a few insurgents and a shitload of civilians.
Now get ready for a drone to hoover and shoot (film we hope) above your neighborhood. But drones that one can get from FPV Frenzy can also be used for much lesser malignant purposes, like for work or play.
From the Wall Street Journal last week:

Personal drones aren’t yet plying U.S. flyways.
But an arms race is building among people looking to track celebrities, unfaithful lovers or even wildlife.
Some organizations would like them for emergency operations in areas hit by natural disasters.
Several efforts to develop personal drones are scheduled for completion in the next year.
“If the Israelis can use them to find terrorists, certainly a husband is going to be able to track a wife who goes out at 11 o’clock at night and follow her,” said New York divorce lawyer Raoul Felder.

Despite what could happen:

However, there already is a regulatory gray area: recreational use of drones.
The FAA doesn’t have explicit rules governing such uses, but (FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown) Ms. Brown said an advisory that applies to pilotless drones recommends — but doesn’t require — that such aircraft be flown away from populated areas; away from regular airplanes; at an altitude below 400 feet; and that airports be notified if the craft is flying nearby.
Mr. Felder said the recreational exception could provide clever lawyers with an opening for use of the drones.

If the market is there, and it will be, the use of such surveillance options will increase and the buzz will begin.
Drones are currently being used outside the Middle East war zones, especially to the US/Mexico border where from four miles up, these supposedly ‘surveillance only‘ UAVs can spot peoples tearing into the wonderful US of A.
And the images are clear: “I’m pretty sure they’ll be able to tell you’re wearing a blue shirt, tan slacks, I’m in a flight suit with a black hat,” said Gasho (Dave Gasho runs the predators for U.S. Customs and Border Protection). “They can see that.”

The biggest slobbering comes from paparazzi.
From the UK’s Telegraph:

Ken Rinaldo, an associate professor at Ohio State University, is working on the “Paparazzi Drone.”
At the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada earlier this year he deployed “Paparazzi Bots,” human-sized robots which followed athletes and spectators and took photographs of them.
Prof Rinaldo told the Wall Street Journal his drones would have “a lot of flash and bling, probably some lasers too.”
The US Federal Aviation Administration advises that only the government should use unmanned drones over US airspace.

Operative word there is “advises.”
In the future, one needs to keep all affairs out of sight of the sky.

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