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The MAVS are coming(not the NBA team)
March 30, 2012 9:07 AM   Subscribe

From blimps to bugs, an explosion in aerial drones is transforming the way America fights and thinks about its wars. Predator drones, the Cessna-sized workhorses that have dominated unmanned flight since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, are by now a brand name, known and feared around the world. But far less known is the sheer size, variety and audaciousness of a rapidly expanding drone universe, along with the dilemmas that come with it.(via)

A micro air vehicle (MAV), or micro aerial vehicle, is a class of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) that has a size restriction and may be autonomous. Modern craft can be as small as 15 centimetres. Development is driven by commercial, research, government, and military purposes; with insect-sized aircraft reportedly expected in the future.

Cyborg beetles to be the US military's latest weapon(video)

US Air Force Flapping Wing Micro Air Vehicle

US Air Force Micro Air Vehicles Test Lab

Exploiting Acoustic Modality in Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) Missions - Towards Synergy in Global Efforts

Besides cyborg beetles we can also expect cyborg butterflies in the near future. Below are several high speed videos of butterflies in flight.

Butterfly in slow motion

Dance of the Butterflies

High speed Movie (Butterfly #3)

Butterflies chasing each other

Butterfly Swarm High Speed Slow Motion

fly attacks butterfly high-speed
posted by AElfwine Evenstar (66 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Audaciousness? What the..
Ok now I'll RTFA.
posted by hypersloth at 9:14 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Folks that are interested in this topic may want to check out an event that the Brookings Institution is holding next Wednesday, The Impact of Domestic Drones on Privacy, Safety and National Security. If you are in DC you can attend for free (registration required), otherwise a webcast is available. Oddly, Senior Fellow Peter Singer, who wrote the excellent Wired for War, isn't on the panel. I haven't explored the links in depth yet, so maybe this is addressed, but one thing I learned from Wired for War is that human controlled micro vehicles are hard because most humans watching the video feeds get sick. The motion is too foreign.
posted by postel's law at 9:17 AM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Obviously they need some videogamers then. I've logged countless hours flying planes in all frame rate conditions, and with all manner of inverted look (even horizontal). This is our time.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:24 AM on March 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


They only come with dilemmas if you give a shit about the constitution and human rights in general.
posted by spicynuts at 9:34 AM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


You know what? The biggest danger is when one of these takes down a commercial airliner. That's the major problem. It will be private users, real estate photographers, etc. that will be the issue.

In terms of a drone v. a jet? Who cares? If strikes we would be making overseas with jets are now done with drones, I have no problem with that.

Are there drone strikes that I disagree with? I'm sure there are. But it isn't the fact that a drone that's doing it that is the problem. Its the strike itself.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:35 AM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Actually, the military already uses gamers to fly its UAVs. The motion of a robot modeled after a housefly is still too erratic.
posted by postel's law at 9:39 AM on March 30, 2012


The next video game you play might not be a game at all.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:39 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


But it isn't the fact that a drone that's doing it that is the problem. Its the strike itself.

What about domestic surveillance?
posted by spicynuts at 9:39 AM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


With a few exceptions unmanned aircraft are not currently allowed in US airspace. That's about to change; the FAA finally got permanent funding, but part of the mandate is figuring out how to allow drones in the airspace. There's definite safety issues with large unmanned aircraft vs. big commercial jets and small private planes; it'll be interesting to see how it is resolved.
posted by Nelson at 9:39 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


drones obviously make it much easier to do the strike in first place
posted by delmoi at 9:40 AM on March 30, 2012


You left out TacoCopter..
posted by obscurator at 9:45 AM on March 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


Eventually we will have cyborg fleas crawling up Lady Gaga's hoohaw tweeting video to all and there won't be a damn thing anybody can do about it. The future will be fascinating.
posted by bukvich at 9:53 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


*ahem
posted by Fizz at 9:56 AM on March 30, 2012


The children's museum in Dallas had a spy exhibit where prototypes of insect spybots were modeled. My son took one look at them and said "cool, now we can see what a bug sees right as our cat eats them!"
posted by dejah420 at 9:56 AM on March 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


One of the most interesting things I've read this year is Francis Fukuyama's blog post (Yes, that Francis Fukuyama) about building his own surveillance drone.
posted by mhoye at 10:01 AM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


It will be very interesting to see how laws surrounding civilian use of drones develops as more and more police departments, federal agencies, etc. use drones for domestic surveillance and "response". I have to think severe restrictions are in the offing.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:07 AM on March 30, 2012


Somewhere in Afghanistan...
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:10 AM on March 30, 2012


That's pretty scary. I'm sure someone is working on signal disruption though.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:16 AM on March 30, 2012


I'm sure someone is working on signal disruption though.

If by "somebody" you mean "Iran" and by "working on" you mean "recently spoofed GPS signals to capture an intact US drone," then yeah.

That's kind of a problem.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:22 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Generally I am not pro-gee wiz technology for important things like law enforcement, national security and so forth. The locations of Abimael Guzmán and Osama bin Laden were determined less by cutting edge technology and more by old fashion detective work. Law enforcement and security already has more false positives than you can shake a stick at and Texas has already demonstrated what cops with unmanned drones are capable of.

That said, I see big things for low-cost unmanned drones for things that don't require life or death decision making in real time. As the pice and complexity of these systems plummet expect to see a lot more open journalism, surveying and mapping, crop and environmental monitoring and regulatory enforcement via remote control and autonomous drone.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:34 AM on March 30, 2012


The next video game you play might not be a game at all.

Ender's MAV?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:34 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I expect tomorrow's Trayvon is going to be killed by a drone
posted by Renoroc at 10:35 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


AElfwine Evenstar: "The next video game you play might not be a game at all.

Ender's MAV
"

More like Williams' MAV.
posted by barnacles at 10:36 AM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


The thing about drone strikes is that they don't (currently) attract the kind of political attention that would be brought by sending in manned bombers to do the same thing. Why this is the case is an interesting question, but one should not assume that we are simply continuing to do what we have always done, only now with drones. We are using drones to carry out extrajudicial (a polite euphemism for "illegal") strikes against civilian targets on the suspicion that some of the people we are killing might have been plotting against our government. This is not simply morally abhorrent, it is also plainly counterproductive. Allow me to use a quote from Ian M. Banks' A Few Notes on the Culture, which has long rung true for me:
if in a sizable population there are one hundred rebels, all of whom are then rounded up and killed, the number of rebels present at the end of the day is not zero, and not even one hundred, but two hundred or three hundred or more; an equation based on human nature which seems often to baffle the military and political mind.
We are murdering people (in some cases our own citizens) out of a sheer bloodyminded reactionary instinct that dictates that people who challenge our power must be stopped at any cost. This is a dictate that has been employed by every hegemonic empire in history, and its unthinking application is among the classic fallacies that have led to those empires' demise.

The drone program is just totally fucked from front to back on every level, and it's a manifestation of the fact that those who run our society have mistaken their great-but-finite potency for omnipotence. They think that they can resolve all challenges to their rule by simply killing anyone who stands in their way, and are too short-sighted to see that they are only hastening the inevitable (for all empires fall) revolution that will see their hegemony ended. For that, I say good riddance.

However, I am disappointed and saddened to see the old patterns playing out. We live in an age where many among us are enlightened enough and conscious enough of our history that we could concievably take another path. (Power does often corrupt, but I remain optimistic that it need not corrupt totally, that systems can be emplaced to reduce its corrupting influence.) If the agents of peace, inclusion, reason, and love could get their act together and organize effectively for power, we might not have to go down this path.

We are standing at a crossroads, but it is becoming more and more clear that rather than turning off to try a different way, we are simply going to continue marching forward along the track that every empire before us has taken, pursuing the dream of complete and eternal empire along the road to inevitable ruin.

Excuse me, I think I need to buy a lot of dried food and a piece of the Sonoran. I hate when I get like this but god dammit it's all around us these days and it has been since before I was born and more and more it seems like it's just a matter of time. Fucking depressing. Why do we keep doing this?
posted by Scientist at 10:45 AM on March 30, 2012 [20 favorites]


Hoo, is any else reminded of PKD's "Second Variety"?
posted by Calzephyr at 10:46 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, many times, it's excellent (or I remember it being excellent to me when I was thirteen, anyway). Very chilling. Not that we're anywhere close to a robot apocalypse though, this apocolypse, if it happens, is definitely one of our own doing. These drones are not autonomous.
posted by Scientist at 10:49 AM on March 30, 2012


AElfwine Evenstar: "A micro air vehicle (MAV), or micro aerial vehicle, is a class of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) that has a size restriction and may be autonomous. Modern craft can be as small as 15 centimetres."

Of course, this was anticipated by Danny Dunn, Invisible Boy.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:22 AM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


The locations of Abimael Guzmán and Osama bin Laden were determined less by cutting edge technology and more by old fashion detective work.

From the "Via" link:
The Central Intelligence Agency spied on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan by video transmitted from a new bat-winged stealth drone, the RQ-170 Sentinel, otherwise known as the “Beast of Kandahar,” named after it was first spotted on a runway in Afghanistan.
Old fashioned detective work never goes away, but just one of many tools of the trade.
posted by stbalbach at 11:41 AM on March 30, 2012


Marginally related, shamelessly self-referential link
posted by mmrtnt at 11:43 AM on March 30, 2012


Switchblade Kamikaze Drone (cool video). This thing is actually in deployment.
posted by stbalbach at 11:48 AM on March 30, 2012


> The future will be fascinating.

That's one word for it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:49 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


> The future will be fascinating.

What do you do for a living?

I'm a goat herder in Afghanistan.

Oh. Less so for you.
posted by Trochanter at 11:58 AM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


transforming the way America fights [A] and thinks [B] about its wars

A: Now they don't have to.
B: Now they don't have to.

Not such a great thing, IMHO.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:59 AM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


So much is wrong here that it seems impossible to even address it.

See: "Ender's Game", and a couple of the sequels; see also, Orwell's "1984," for a general reading of how people are seduced into letting the government slaughter foreigners, and conditioned to accept it as necessary and inevitable. This is only a form of denial, to remove ourselves from taking responsibility: ooops, technical glitch causes more collateral damage.

I don't see how our national security is advanced by this. In war after war, after the technology has played itself out, grunts with bayonets determine the outcome of the exercise. Look at modern adaptations (now called asymmetrical warfare techniques) to see how that works.

Lost in the discussion is the notion that foreign policy objectives are legitimately advanced by slaughtering dissenters.

I think I'll retire to sputter for a while, until I recover some measure of equanimity.
posted by mule98J at 12:00 PM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Think I'd like to see a gun that shoots...I dunno, maybe a kind of Skittle truffle, harmless except for its ability to make drone maintenance prohibitively expensive. Finding a cheap and effective way to defeat spy drones is really the only patriotic thing to do.
posted by diorist at 12:15 PM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am fine with all of this as long as someone develops a device that can crash any of these that come within 100 feet of my house, and I can buy it on Newegg for $49.
posted by freecellwizard at 1:21 PM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Think I'd like to see a gun that shoots...I dunno, maybe a kind of Skittle truffle, harmless except for its ability to make drone maintenance prohibitively expensive. Finding a cheap and effective way to defeat spy drones is really the only patriotic thing to do.

It's called a shotgun. Wasn't there some recent story of hunters shooting down some environmentalist drone or something? For amateur and small/close drones, well a lot of Americans are skeet shooters. For serious military drones that are 10k' up in the air...I'm sure amateurs aren't going to be taking them down.

Re:the military uses, welcome to the metal wars. Hopefully Lord Dredd will save us.
posted by Chekhovian at 1:34 PM on March 30, 2012


We are using drones to carry out extrajudicial (a polite euphemism for "illegal") strikes against civilian targets on the suspicion that some of the people we are killing might have been plotting against our government

We only conducted one strike that might be considered extrajudicial. The rest are legal by US law. Non-US citizens do not have access to US courts for 4th Amendment claims committed outside the US. United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259 (1990). Since all use of force claims are handled under the Fourth Amendment, (wrote an appellate brief on it some years back in a use of force case), there is no judicial requirement that the US obtain any sort of conviction. That leaves Anwar Awlaki as the only possible case of "illegal" use of force.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:55 PM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have to say that after scribbling on the backs of some envelopes recently, I'm highly optimistic that, unlike most other technology, this is an area where the individual has for the next decade at least a decided advantage over the state.

Consider a device, involving a net of fishing line, one balloon at each corner (call them N, S, W and E), and a simple servo-controlled wheel that lets you bring each balloon up and down, thus lifting the net flat - but then you can put up a near-vertical barrier in one of two directions as well, by lifting either N and E, or N and W, one whole grid length above the other two. Or of course you could just have two balloons and two servos and a vertical barrier with a fixed orientation.

I could make and program one of them over a weekend with four Arduinos - a couple of hundred dollars in parts - and I'm not so great with hardware.

If you spent a few weeks at it, you could make something you could put together out of common parts and a ROM for under $50 in moderate quantities.

Or consider the following - an air cannon that shoots a spiderweb net of fishing net (with a spin and weights so it spreads open as it flies). You can get air cannons that would basically do the trick today for around $200 (they shoot confetti or T-shirts for shows) and use cartridges of compressed CO2 for propulsion (or one of a number of other ideas) - and your "munitions" would cost you pennies to make and some little time.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:55 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lost in the discussion is the notion that foreign policy objectives are legitimately advanced by slaughtering dissenters.

Members of terrorist organizations who themselves are involved in terrorist strikes or the planning of terrorist strikes against the US are not "dissenters."
posted by Ironmouth at 1:56 PM on March 30, 2012


involving a net of fishing line, one balloon at each corner (call them N, S, W and E)...an air cannon that shoots a spiderweb net of fishing net

Sorry what was the point of these concept drones? As interceptors for other drones?

I'm highly optimistic that, unlike most other technology, this is an area where the individual has for the next decade at least a decided advantage over the state.

On the electronics side, a qualified maybe*. On the hardware side, for long endurance, high altitude, high quality optics, probably no.

*Yes Ardunios are cheap. Cell phones are cheap and their RF communications are pretty solid, but not unjammable given reasonable EW capabilites. A lot of this will parallel the arms race in IEDs and IED jamming and detection that we've seen in the last few years.
posted by Chekhovian at 2:12 PM on March 30, 2012


Members of terrorist organizations who themselves are involved in terrorist strikes or the planning of terrorist strikes against the US are not "dissenters."

For many Americans, this vanishingly small number of supposed terrorists are the most important thing in the world. No crime or disruption of civil liberties is too great that it is not necessary in case one of these evil terrorists might conceivably harm some American.

But increasingly many Americans look instead to how incredibly rare terrorism really is. We've had very roughly 40 years of "modern terrorism" and 5000 killed on American soil - about 120 a year. That's about as likely as being killed by a bee sting or lightning. Your chances of dying in bath or shower accident is about four times as great. Your chance of being killed in a car accident is much greater - about 300 times greater, and your chance of dying from some sort of circulatory problem is 7000 times as great.

But worse - the largest component of those deaths are from 9/11, and that is something that the system we had before 9/11, if the people involved had simply being doing their jobs,, if these people had simply been following the book without being particularly creative, then many if not most of these casualties might have been avoided.

Anyone who's read the 9/11 Commission's report has to be struck by the level of incompetence in the system up and down the line. Time and again, human failure either allowed the crime to go forward, or prevented mitigation of the crime once it was under way. Between airline security, NORAD, and our various intelligence agencies, there were already systems in place, systems which did not function, and the reason they did not function was due primarily to flat-out incompetence.

To respond to this systematic incompetence by punishing us, the people, the innocent victims of all this, by taking our money to spy on us, is breathtaking in its arrogance.

I'm telling you all this to say that I really don't care one whit about terrorism - I think I do much better at prolonging my life by avoiding cars and eating right. The US government and its increasing desire to suppress all dissent and extend their surveillance to all areas of the country are far, far more worrisome to me than "the terrorists".

I'm no coward. I deal with rationalities and probabilities and then I grit my teeth and suck it up. But many, perhaps most Americans are cowards - they will tear down their whole beloved Liberty for a molehill and ignore the mountains of real mortality right in front of them.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:23 PM on March 30, 2012 [13 favorites]


Chekhovian: exactly - nets to capture the government's drones, to either destroy them, or to repurpose them to your own ends...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:25 PM on March 30, 2012


nets to capture the government's drones, to either destroy them, or to repurpose them to your own ends...

And you'd do this rather than using a $2 shotgun shell because?
posted by Chekhovian at 2:38 PM on March 30, 2012


Members of TERRORIST!!! organizations who themselves are involved in TERRORIST!!! strikes or the planning of TERRORIST!!! strikes against the US are not "dissenters."

Cogent arguments don't rely on floating signifiers.
posted by twirlip at 2:48 PM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


> And you'd do this rather than using a $2 shotgun shell because?

Well, I wouldn't do this at all, I'll be elsewhere.

But you'd use it because you can't see in the dark.

Because discharging firearms attracts a lot of attention and is also felonious in a lot of places where people actually live.

Because it's not so trivial even to acquire such a weapon in many places.

Because hitting a small target in the sky 100m or more up might be fairly difficult with a shotgun.

Because if you pulled a drone out of the sky you might be able to repurpose it.

Because if you pulled a drone out of the air without damaging it and simply left it there with its power drained, under today's laws it's not clear you've committed a crime (though you probably violated FAA regulations, and they're relentless once they're onto you...)

Because a shotgun actually costs more than the balloon system would.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:58 PM on March 30, 2012


Elevator pitch: a lone man (or woman!) is hunted mercilessly by an advanced hunter-seeker drone. Sort of a Blue Thunder/Runaway/Enemy of the State/Terminator thing. Unleash a squadron of these bad boys, and you've got the makings of the next Doberman Gang flick!

Throw in a little Short Circuit (for the kids!) and we've got marketing out the yin-yang!

Oh hey, Hollywood! Contact my people! Let's do lunch, baybee!
posted by SPrintF at 3:10 PM on March 30, 2012


Because discharging firearms attracts a lot of attention and is also felonious in a lot of places where people actually live.


Well, I think in terms of nerd hypotheticals we're well past the civil disobedience part anyway....

under today's laws it's not clear you've committed a crime

Remember that guy with the sweet Bikes Against Bush computerized spray chalking system? It wasn't illegal, but they managed to keep him cooking in jail for while, as well as confiscate his hardware. So I wouldn't want my strongest armor to be the letter of the law here.

Because hitting a small target in the sky 100m or more up might be fairly difficult with a shotgun.

Tell that to the Ducks, Pheasants, Quail etc. *PULL* Speaking of which, did you know that if you play duck hunt on an NES, and you plug a controller into the 2nd port, that player controls the duck?

How did I not know this!?!
posted by Chekhovian at 3:10 PM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


> > Because hitting a small target in the sky 100m or more up might be fairly difficult with a shotgun.

> Tell that to the Ducks, Pheasants, Quail

If you can reliably hit a duck that's flying 100m or more up, my hat is off to you.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:16 PM on March 30, 2012


Actually, I thinking some more, you probably hit the nail on the head with your second option:
Or consider the following - an air cannon that shoots a spiderweb net of fishing net (with a spin and weights so it spreads open as it flies). You can get air cannons that would basically do the trick today for around $200 (they shoot confetti or T-shirts for shows) and use cartridges of compressed CO2 for propulsion (or one of a number of other ideas) - and your "munitions" would cost you pennies to make and some little time.

My only suggestion would be, make it a potato gun type combustion gun, not a compressed air system. That gets your costs down to ~$20, more if you use cool looking transparent PVC. And the projectile is going to take some doing...something that spreads out, yet travels reasonably far...a toughie, but not impossible I think.

Also, hmm, I wonder if the better option isn't something entirely passive: the rebirth of barrage balloons. If you have a bunch of balloons forming a competing nest of strings, that would make UAV navigation quite difficult.
posted by Chekhovian at 3:32 PM on March 30, 2012


Or, OK, (wait! hear me out!) there are TWO drones!

Webdt (Watch EveryBody Drone Thing) and Kebdt (Kill EveryBody Drone Thing).

Webdt (or "Weebles") is only a watcher. And, as it watches, it becomes interested in the fate of a small boy undergoing treatment for CANCER in a mid-western hospital. Eventually, Weebles approaches the boy ("Hunter") and they become pals.

*ominous goose*

Kebdt (or "Keevil") was unleashed by EVIL CORPORATE GUY to destroy the lovable Weebles and its "collateral damage" pal, Hunter.

*ominous goose*

We watch, aghast, as the wicked Keevil stalks Weebles while Weebles and Hunter prepare for the school Winter Pageant in which Hunter will play one of the shepherds that witnesses the birth of the Baby Winter Blessed Creature. Weebles will, of course, play the role of the Blessed Star of Winter Pageant!

*ominous goose*

In a TERRIFYING showdown on CHRISTMAS EVE, Weebles and Keevil will face off, destroying a significant part of Hunter's hometown as Weebles struggles to survive the onslaught of Keevil's relentless attacks.

*ominous goose*

In the end, the heroic Weebles intercepts a hunter-killer missile aimed at Hunter ("hunter-killer, you see?"). The brave little drone perishes! But, Keevil, looking on, asks itself, "what have I become?"

*inevitably, "Salsbury Hill"*

Hunter, now magically cured of CANCER, walks in the park with his new pal, the remorseful Keevil. (Heel Face Turn, Booyah!)

It will be a good new year for Hunter and his best friend, Kweebles.
posted by SPrintF at 3:38 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or, OK, (wait! hear me out!) there are TWO drones!

They already made that movie: *Batteries Not Included.

You've only neglected the part where the two drones have sex, eat a bunch of scrap metal, and have the cutest little baby drones you could ever imagine.
posted by Chekhovian at 3:43 PM on March 30, 2012


They already made that movie

Umm... Hollywood?! (Although, your point is a good one. Still, you're missing the whole military/industrial/corporate stooge/Dean Koontz "izzn't he a good weapon monstrosity? Yes, he is! Yes, he is!" angle.)
posted by SPrintF at 3:51 PM on March 30, 2012


We only conducted one strike that might be considered extrajudicial. The rest are legal by US law. Non-US citizens do not have access to US courts for 4th Amendment claims committed outside the US. United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259 (1990). Since all use of force claims are handled under the Fourth Amendment, (wrote an appellate brief on it some years back in a use of force case), there is no judicial requirement that the US obtain any sort of conviction. That leaves Anwar Awlaki as the only possible case of "illegal" use of force.

For me legality isn't a justification for shit. Slavery used to be legal in this country as you are aware. American Indian policy circa the founding-1950's was legal. Nowadays most people would consider these past actions of our government fundamentally immoral.

That's just coming from what I see as a moral perspective, not to mention the fact that the policy of bombing the shit out of peasants who may or may not be terrorists is counterproductive to our cause; as mentioned by several up thread.

Also to follow up on lupus_yonderboy's point: A person has a greater chance of dying by just waking up every morning and getting in their car than ever being killed by a terrorist, and yet our government and media seem to have convinced a majority of Americans that because of this threat we must prosecute a generational war to wipe out all the terrorists. This policy is insane and idiotic on its face.

But other than that I still think drones are fucking cool even though they do present massive potential for abuse(like any technology). I'm not so worried about drones spying on us as a majority of Americans already have cameras and listening devices in their homes and on their persons that can be taken over and used for surveillance should the NSA or any other agency really want to.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:07 PM on March 30, 2012


The Japanese internment during WWII was legal. Surely you aren't going to argue that we should do the same to Muslim-Americans just because we can legally do so, are you?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:14 PM on March 30, 2012


Long before there are microdrones flying into your house to bug your conversations there will be large drones flying thousands of feet high for hours (or days) with extremely high resolution cameras (gigapixels)[1] watching neighborhoods and even entire metro areas[2]. Persistent surveillance software will be able to keep track of you (and everyone else) as you leave your house, drive to work, walk in the park, etc.

DIY UAVs are so 2010. DIY UAV countermeasures are 2020.

Shooting (or netting) these drones is impractical. Camouflage, deception & possibly electronic countermeasures seem like the best bet.

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARGUS-IS
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorgon_Stare
posted by jjwiseman at 5:33 PM on March 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Camouflage, deception & possibly electronic countermeasures seem like the best bet.

So at some point back in the day, some of my friends were asking the school AV expert guy how to take some video and edit out faces of the people filmed (this was rather harder then), because of course they'd filmed their crimespree and couldn't show the video without incriminating themselves.

So after about 10 seconds of incredulity, the guy responded with: "WEAR MASKS YOU IDIOTS!".
posted by Chekhovian at 5:41 PM on March 30, 2012


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gorgon_Stare

(previously)
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:44 PM on March 30, 2012


Actually I think the small DIY drones will help equalize power between people and authority, at least for a while.

These days it's pretty easy for a civilian or a journalist to build or acquire a semi-autonomous drone that shoots HD video that could be used to track police/document brutality during protests, get immediate video of something behind police tape or other sousveillance.

Some near future successor to Trevor Paglen might even be able to design a drone to penetrate classified military bases and get away with it, instead of taking extreme telephoto images from miles away.
posted by jjwiseman at 5:53 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


re: barrage baloons - have you seen the vids? These new quadcopters can fly through holes barely bigger than themselves. The nanobots they were talking about, that will likely be in production in the next ten years or so, are the size of insects.

Dream on with the barrage baloons. Mosquito netting and window / doorway discipline will be the new thing. Airlocks and rooms heavily shielded to prevent electronic communications.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:03 PM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


So I've been reading a dry, ponderous, academic tome full of collected articles by dry, ponderous academics - from China, parts of Africa, India and Sweden (the so called neutral support behind making this book happen). Its about Rise of China and India in Africa - in the form of dry academic research papers, not handwaving Economist articles.

An interesting pattern I noted was that the majority of the articles start off by saying the era of the bipolar (heh) or unipolar world was over and that the balance of power had significantly shifted to the East or the South or whatever.

In that context, it suddenly strikes me, this thread feels like a conversation that has gone from front and center of the mythical playing field to some where back behind the bleachers.

Maybe the RoTW(tm) will amuse themselves with the so called Great Game - earning points bringing these buzzing flies and robotic interceptors down. "Audacious Drone Universe" one could call it...
posted by infini at 11:38 PM on March 30, 2012


Actually I think the small DIY drones will help equalize power between people and authority, at least for a while.

These days it's pretty easy for a civilian or a journalist to build or acquire a semi-autonomous drone that shoots HD video that could be used to track police/document brutality during protests, get immediate video of something behind police tape or other sousveillance.


But doesn't this presuppose that, upon being shown these videos, people will care? And that there will still be legal means of redress available against the perpetrators? I'm not sure you're thinking 1984ily enough.
posted by AugieAugustus at 5:57 AM on March 31, 2012


Up to now, drones have been the tool of the forces of evil. I'm looking forward to the good guys building UAVs to fight back.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:20 PM on March 31, 2012


...until circuit boards and quadrocopters are classified as terrorist paraphernalia.
posted by MikeKD at 3:40 PM on April 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Air Force ramps up drone war: New documents reveal plans to more than quadruple Reaper missions by 2016
posted by homunculus at 8:15 PM on April 5, 2012


The Peace Drone
posted by homunculus at 12:51 PM on April 15, 2012


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