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Midwifing Skynet
April 23, 2012 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Quadcopters are very cool and a little creepy. It was probably only a matter of time before someone attached a machine gun to one and called it Charlene.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (67 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
"In the next ten, maybe fifteen years, shit is going to get very real."

As long-term geopolitical prognostications go, this is one I can endorse
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:47 AM on April 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm working on a short SF script involving autonomous quadrotors. With the current uptick in badass/scary quadrotor videos, I starting to worry that it's too zeitgeisty for its own good and will be instantly dated.
posted by brundlefly at 11:47 AM on April 23, 2012


And we're one step closer to Shadowrun.

Excellent.
posted by oddman at 11:48 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


They should have spent more of their cgi budget on his accent.
posted by jonbro at 11:48 AM on April 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


Charlene, Charlene, Charlene, Charlene!
Please don't shoot me just because you can!

posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 11:50 AM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Quadcopters sell for about, what, a grand wholesale. Add in the machine gun, the tablet, and the software, and sell it in a bundle in large quantities, I bet these can be had for under 2K for the entire package, and can be handled by just about anybody after a few hours training.

I just got a very bleak look at our future.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:50 AM on April 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


They should have spent more of their cgi budget on his accent.

If you aren't familiar with FPSRussia, well that's kind of his schtick.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:51 AM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


They should have spent more of their cgi budget on his accent.

Are you fucking kidding me? Does he read the dictionary? Tell me he's an option on my GPS?
posted by Fizz at 11:51 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


He gives Kyles everywhere a bad name.
posted by Edogy at 11:52 AM on April 23, 2012


Cripes guys, do you not recognize a Professional Russian(tm) when you see one?
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:54 AM on April 23, 2012


Oh, I was not aware of this schtick. I rescind that part of my earlier snark. Now my snark no longer makes sense.

But seriously folks, the US has been murdering people with unmanned flying machines for a little while now. I am unclear on why the fact that this is using a hand gun rather than an explosive device is any different.
posted by jonbro at 11:54 AM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Looks fake as hell.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:00 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am unclear on why the fact that this is using a hand gun rather than an explosive device is any different.

Because it's now inexpensive enough for a regime like, say, Syria, to flood a city, like, say, Homs, with 50,000 of these things. In a couple of years, they won't even need an operator. Just set the kill-zone in GPS, and have them fly in to kill anything moving, and fly out to take on more fuel and ammo before going back in, day and night. Have a few hundred patrolling the perimeter at all times to kill anyone trying to escape to Turkey. The whole deal will be cheaper than a platoon of modern tanks, or a squad of modern ground-attack jets.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:01 PM on April 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Man, wheels within wheels:

A gamer with a fake Russian acccent, who usually shoots real guns, instead uses a fake quadrotor, sponsored by the real new Call of Duty game. Its like a Community episode of meta.
posted by blahblahblah at 12:02 PM on April 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Why assume it's fake? The technology is cheap enough, one could probably cobble this together for a grand or so, and if you did a manufacturing run, it would probably go down towards $500 once you get past 1000 pieces.
posted by MikeWarot at 12:10 PM on April 23, 2012


"Why assume it's fake?

Recoil.(?)
posted by oddman at 12:12 PM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


MikeWarot: missing shadows, too few/no bullet holes, doesn't move like a real quadcopter, practically no recoil.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:15 PM on April 23, 2012


Tell me he's an option on my GPS?

Take the next right, about 100 meters. Shit is going to get very real.
posted by eriko at 12:19 PM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Maybe, but if i were going to make a fake quadrotor death machine, I'd make it look at least marginally effective.

I don't think the extra explosives FPSRussia guy packs into everything is doing the realism any favors, though.
posted by cmoj at 12:19 PM on April 23, 2012


Yeah I think this is fake. But even if strapping the gun on makes this really hard, just imagine remotely setting off a some C4 or a hand grenade or something on these. They'll be so cheap they could just be disposable.
posted by floam at 12:20 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Quadcopters sell for about, what, a grand wholesale. Add in the machine gun, the tablet, and the software, and sell it in a bundle in large quantities, I bet these can be had for under 2K for the entire package, and can be handled by just about anybody after a few hours training.

Machine guns are heavy, as is fuel. RF jamming &/or serious regulation is going to start becoming standard if these things ever endanger a (european or american) civilian.
posted by leotrotsky at 12:21 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, there's clearly recoil when he shoots the mannequins on the hill.
posted by cmoj at 12:21 PM on April 23, 2012


leotrotsky: How do you practically jam a device like this without making GPS and mobile voice and data unavailable to civilians? You could probably protect a head of state that way, but civilians?
posted by floam at 12:23 PM on April 23, 2012


Ah, its our weekly quadcopter video.

I vote fake on this one - stability vs recoil etc
posted by memebake at 12:24 PM on April 23, 2012


There's clearly fake recoil as he pretends to shoot the mannequins on the hill. There's no way something that light is actually handling the recoil from that gun as shown, in reality it would be spinning like a top and spraying the narrator and cameraman with bullets.
posted by TungstenChef at 12:25 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I initially thought it was a fake due to the lift capacity of quadcopters... it turns out that lift capacity is actually only an issue for real world application, i.e. if it is holding up a gun or a camera it can only do it for a few minutes. Like good for replacing camera cranes, but not good for doing room to room combat.

http://diydrones.com/forum/topics/heavy-lift-quadcopter

Then I thought fake, because the quad copters that can carry that much load don't look like that with stupid rotor protectors and cowling and stuff:

http://www.cam-and-carrier.com/products.html

Now I just think fake because of the plug for call of duty at the end. Like maybe the copter is real, and the footage is real, but why the heck would you attach a gun to something.
posted by jonbro at 12:26 PM on April 23, 2012


I'm gonna protect myself from these the same way I protect myself from small arms and sniper rifles: nobody cares that I'm alive.
posted by floam at 12:26 PM on April 23, 2012 [17 favorites]


If this were real, the guy would have been sweeping a live muzzle across himself and anyone else nearby. He has kind of a lame schtick and what have you, but he fires enough firearms that I don't think he's dumb enough to do that. Or at least I hope so, if not his obit should be any day now.
posted by kavasa at 12:32 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I want one!

Also, this guy is my hero.
posted by Fister Roboto at 12:33 PM on April 23, 2012


>RF jamming &/or serious regulation is going to start becoming standard if these things ever endanger a (european or american) civilian

Yeah. Aerial drones will enjoy a Wild West, free-for-all period, but then the hammer will fall.

They'll be around, of course, but the non-criminal ones will have government badges and/or mega-corp licenses attached.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:33 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Smart weapons work perfectly and always save the day.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:34 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is fake because there is no receiver, only the barrel and fore grip assembly of an M4-carbine type weapon (see the shot at about 1:05). The receiver that hooks into it is what actually loads the rounds into the gun to fire them, and is missing. There are no also ejecting shell casings. The ammunition feed line is just some plastic conduit that isn't wide enough to transport real rounds. The muzzle flash is too way bright and clearly animated in.
posted by procrastination at 12:40 PM on April 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


The best part is around 2:35 where the coptor swings around and the machine gun is pointed directly at the douche while he's looking away.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:44 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fake Russian is 22 days late for fake video.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 12:47 PM on April 23, 2012


What makes me suspicious is that the smoke is not affected by the rotor downwash around 3:40-4:00.
posted by vanar sena at 12:47 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's what the recoil from a real gun (in this case, a 12-gauge shotgun) attached to an RC copter looks like. It's only stable when it's moving forwards (which is pretty obvious); when it's hovering, the recoil makes it move backwards several feet.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:52 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sure the US military is already carrying out assassinations with things like the ARSS sniper drone:
The autonomous Rotorcraft Sniper System (ARSS) is based on the Vigilante 502 unmanned helicopter which is a much modified version of the commercially available Ultrasport 496 which is an ultralight class kit helicopter. Powered by a 115 hp 4 cylinder turbocharged Rotax engine the 1,100 pounds (500kg) UAV can fly at 117 knots (135 mph / 216 kph) for up to 9 hours with a ceiling of 13,000 feet (4,000 m). The Vigilante can carry up to 380 lb (172 kg) of payload which is enough for a medium caliber machine gun, a shotgun or in this case a sniper gun. The autopilot is based on a 266Mhz Pentium PC-104 industrial computer that gets it bearings using GPS, radar altimeter and magnetometer. Communication with the ground is via RF digital modems at 115kbps and has a 20 mile range.

Mounted onto this UAV is a lightweight gun turret developed by Space Dynamics Laboratory. The turret carries a .338 Lapua Magnum rifle and a situational awareness camera plus a scope with cameras attached that provides two levels of zoom. Control of the rifle is via a laptop computer with a Xbox 360 gaming controller used for aiming and firing.
Your $80 dollar camera has face recognition, and no doubt these systems, especially used in concert with surveillance drones, will be able to shoot and kill a database of targets from miles away with a few shots. With three or four barrels, the drone can even guess the most likely directions of the target, and cover each one. From that range, the sound of the shot will arrive after the target is dead or dying.

Anyway, I know this is axe-grindy, but unless we demilitarize our police forces, and open up our military to real oversight from regular citizens, the future won't be bleak: it simply won't exist for most of us. If there is one more terrorist attack, or one election of one crypto-fascist, freedom of expression will cease to exist in a nation where a small concentration of power is in command of an autonomous drone military.
posted by deanklear at 12:57 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this is fake. Besides the weird movements, lack of enough rotor downwash and the fake gun head... you simply wouldn't blow up expensive toys like that.

But it doesn't have to be fake. This isn't the first quad-rotor with a gun attached to it. I've seen a couple of videos on YouTube - one of someone mounting a semi automatic pistol, another featuring a "recoiless" combat shotgun called the AA12.

There's even a battery powered commodity parts multi-rotor platform out there someone made capable of lifting a human passenger, albeit briefly.

And, yeah, the FPS Russia guy isn't even actually Russian, but he's probably crazy enough to stand that close to an armed quad-rotor. There are a lot of videos of him doing ridiculously stupid, dangerous shit like firing "Dragon's Breath" incendiary shotgun rounds at flammable objects at extremely close range, shooting a fully automatic anti aircraft cannon at objects at waaaay too close of a range and generally behaving badly with firearms in extremely risky ways that just about guarantee a potentially lethal ricochet scenario.

Advanced software control could easily handle recoil problems and other stability issues. Almost all of these gyrocopters require some kind of "fly by wire" flight control software and accelerometer to function - you really can't fly them without some embedded software like you can with a traditional RC helicopter.
posted by loquacious at 12:57 PM on April 23, 2012


What about a recoil-less weapon like a bazooka that exhausts out the back.
posted by stbalbach at 12:57 PM on April 23, 2012


vanar sena: you can see the smoke being blown through the rotors at 2:30, but it's blowing the wrong way!
posted by daniel_charms at 12:58 PM on April 23, 2012


Bunny Ultramod It's worse than you imagine, to begin with you won't even need operators.

Nor will we arm them with guns shooting bullets. An air gun with poison darts is a lot more effective for a vehicle like that. Or simply loading them up with explosives and having them be essentially miniature very well guided missiles.

In 15 years we'll have computation to have them self guided, and sensors to do chemical analysis. Plus facial recognition. Gait recognition. Maybe even get cute and have them do retina scans.

Meaning if you want person X dead or alive, you simply release a few thousand of them and they will literally sniff him out. No more collateral damage from drone attacks. Of course, that assumes you tag the right person....

Worried that the "bad guys" have explosives? Send out a few thousand to sniff out people who smell like explosives and kill them.

Want to simply kill everyone in a given area? Set some parameters in their GPS and send out a few thousand to kill everyone in that area.

Need to get a few thousand to a target a long way away? Load up a cruise missile with a semi-autonomous drone payload.

Worried that the "bad guys" will use jammers and lock out your remote controllers? No sweat, set the drones to go into kill everyone mode if they lose contact with home, that'll teach those terrorists a thing or three. And you can blame the dead children on the "terrorists" because you made sure everyone knew the consequences of jamming your drones.

If the last few years have taught us anything, it's that the US government really, really, likes the idea of being able to wage undeclared war via drones. Smaller, smarter, better drones are the next logical step.

They won't be practical, not even for military level budgets, for a few years. But the time is coming.

And then, of course, they'll use them for the War on Drugs. Sniff out the drug dealers by telling hte drones to sniff out coke, meth, pot, whatever. And who knows, maybe by the time that becomes cost effective they'll have used terrorism as an excuse to wipe away all the pesky civil rights issues that'd raise.

And, of course, since there would be worries about "the terrorists" using drones on America, we'd need constant flights of military/police drones to seek out any "terrorist" drones and kill them. And, of course, it'd be just plain cost effective to use those military/police drones to keep the population under surveillance and in line....
posted by sotonohito at 1:04 PM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


What about a recoil-less weapon like a bazooka that exhausts out the back.

Bazookas aren't actually recoil-less, they're just "less recoil" than a mortar or similar large bore weapon. If you picked up an old-school bazooka or a Russian RPG and fired it without preparing for the recoil it'd probably knock you flat on your ass or break your nose.

A more modern portable rocket launcher like a Stinger or Javelin would have much less recoil, but it still has a lot of recoil due to the ejection charge.

Anyway, there's also a video on YouTube of some guy with a copter with some roman candles or bottle rockets on it or something, and even that was getting pushed all over the place by the recoil.
posted by loquacious at 1:05 PM on April 23, 2012


I know Stephen Baldwin has been complaining that he can't get work, but this is ridiculous.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 1:07 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


sotonohito: right, but unless you've got some magical fuel source, they still won't stay in the air long enough to 1) go boom or 2) get anywhere near their destination.

RC planes don't stay in the air very long as it is, and they're a lot more fuel efficient than a quad rotor.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:09 PM on April 23, 2012


The way you could deal with the recoil is to have the weapon drop free of the launch platform before it's motor ignites. I believe there are some air-to-ground cruise missiles that work like that today. They are not launched off of rails from the aircraft, but fall a short distance and then ignite their (jet or rocket) motor and fly independently.

That's probably a bit complex for a hobbyist right now, since it implies an independent guidance system for the weapon, but it's really not that far beyond the horizon. You could probably rig something up with solid-state Estes motors and an Arduino and a few RC heli gyros that would be reasonably accurate, come to think of it.

How long does anyone want to bet it will take before there is a "RobotWars" style competition where quadcopters try to autonomously hunt down and kill each other? There's really nothing beyond the expense preventing it right now.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:13 PM on April 23, 2012


Professional Russian(tm)

Now a Garth Ennis comic!
posted by Artw at 1:13 PM on April 23, 2012


Eh, recoil isn't a huge issue. I think they'll go for air guns when they do militarize small drones, but as long as it can get the shot off accurately, then from a military standpoint the drone getting pushed around isn't going to be a big deal.

Remember, computer controlled guns means one shot is really all you need. Computers don't attend the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy, heck the first thing we used computers for was calculating ballistics problems. The first shot will hit the target.

But really, if you're the military you don't even need to arm them with projectile weapons. Toss on a load of plastic explosive and just have it ram the victim and explode.

@leotrotsky I figure they'll adopt a carrier model. A bigger, more fuel efficient and faster, delivery vehicle with a payload of several hundred or thousand smaller drones.

But I also expect better energy storage. Lithium air batteries maybe, mini-fuel cells, something. Since we're considering military applications costs that would be prohibitive for civilian use won't be a problem.

It's a military wet dream, they'll throw money at the problem until it is solved.
posted by sotonohito at 1:15 PM on April 23, 2012


You could have pairs of quad rotors. The armed ones sit on the ground or on perches while sensor equipped rotors fly around, only taking off when a sensor-drone sees a target.

Or just have autonomous ground vehicles with mortars, equip the drones with target designators, and use indirect fired laser guided rounds. to do the actual killing.

Actually you could use the ground vehicle as a base station for the quad-rotors as well, since it'll have enough room to carry a generator around.
posted by Grimgrin at 1:18 PM on April 23, 2012


What about gravity? Just load it up with a payload of lawn darts.
posted by floam at 1:21 PM on April 23, 2012


I'm certain this is a fake. I am an RC pilot, while I don't have a quad, friends of mine do and I've seen them fly.

- why does the quad have those rotor guards? All they would serve to do is add weight. Flying robots in movies have "cool" looking rotor guards. Real ones do not.

- it wobbles all over the place in hover. The sentry robots in the terminator movies do this. Real quads are more stable, even in the wind.

- the recoil looks really weird.

- real bullets don't make mannequins explode.

- a hundred round magazine weighs a lot for a quad to lift. Where are the batteries?

- this quad would be heavy. Yet when it lifts off we see it stir up a bunch of dust yet not one hair on his head moves and his shirt doesn't ruffle.

- the smoke is not disturbed enough by the downwash from the props.

- it barely kicks up any dust on the second takeoff and his clothes arent blown around at all.

- it doesnt sound like a quad. It sounds like a full size helicopter.

- at 3:51 there is very obvious CGI smoke around it. It looks very fake.

- part of the rack it's sitting on vanishes in between the cut where he picks it up and the first takeoff.
posted by smoothvirus at 1:25 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Effective immediately, the new Hacker Aesthetic will be to build self-contained drone-killers.

Example: solar-powered disposable autonomous stations scanning the sky for quadrotors and shooting them. I'm thinking maybe small pellets with thin wires trailing them, shot into rotor assemblies. Not sure how well that'd work in the absence of testing, but it seems like it might be effective at destablizing the little buggers, and would probably defeat any prop-driven drone regardless of drone intent or prop orientation.

Actually, you might be able to do something interesting by just shooting wads of adhesive.

Hmm.
posted by aramaic at 1:32 PM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I wish the future would stop trying so hard to be interesting.
posted by KHAAAN! at 1:41 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Quadcopters sell for about, what, a grand wholesale. Add in the machine gun, the tablet, and the software, and sell it in a bundle in large quantities, I bet these can be had for under 2K for the entire package, and can be handled by just about anybody after a few hours training.

I just got a very bleak look at our future


A lot of people in the RC hobby have a bleak outlook on the future of it, because of silly bullshit like this fake video causing the public to flip out and call their congressmen, demanding that we either be regulated by the FAA or banned altogether.

I doubt that the Feds are going to come down on us like a hammer anytime but it's enough to make me wonder. Stunts like this video, and your reaction to it, and the nasty editorial from the LA Times from a month ago make me wonder.

By the way, this hypothetical setup would cost more than a couple of thousand.
posted by smoothvirus at 1:44 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


unless you've got some magical fuel source, they still won't stay in the air long enough to 1) go boom or 2) get anywhere near their destination.

The US already has sensor networks that can be deployed across an area by artillery or air drop. These can be connected to a a grid of explosives like popup mines. I don't think people get the implications of this for future warfare. You don't have to fly a weapon to the target. You just have to deploy masses of small weapons (like small explosive-laden quadrotors) around the target grid, and when the target comes by, it pops up and flies the short distance to the target. The weapons can lay in wait almost indefinitely.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:05 PM on April 23, 2012


I need some kind of a smartphone app to detect these and send them back to kill their owners.
posted by lathrop at 3:02 PM on April 23, 2012


it wobbles all over the place in hover. The sentry robots in the terminator movies do this. Real quads are more stable, even in the wind.

This was the first wtf trigger for me. We've got a couple at work, and they are much more stable than what he was demoing. Real ones are in several ways more advanced than in the video.

The payload isn't a problem, ours can handle about a kilogram. They have a useful like of 30 minutes, a range of a couple of kilometers.

They use a tablet much like the one he was showing, though no live feed. There's not enough bandwidth in the units we have to do full video. Also, the operator doesn't directly fly the unit. You tell the flyer, for instance, go to this grid point, then hover 20 m up and it does it.

Very cool little toys. Ours cost quite a bit more than a thousand dollars each. Ten times more.
posted by bonehead at 3:54 PM on April 23, 2012


Quadcopters should be used to deliver tacos, not ammos.
posted by weston at 4:06 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


> We've got a couple at work, and they are much more stable than what he was demoing. Real ones are in several ways more advanced than in the video.

I want to work where you work.
posted by mrzarquon at 4:16 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


So Charlene would be the shit for say, killing a bunch of wedding guests?
posted by mattoxic at 4:35 PM on April 23, 2012


The video feed from Charlene looks too ANALOG, magenta interference like a freakin' VHS.
posted by Tom-B at 4:47 PM on April 23, 2012


- a hundred round magazine weighs a lot for a quad to lift. Where are the batteries?

Let alone he seems to be pretty cavalier about standing next to a submachine gun that is only held on target by small forces.

Also wouldn't a machine gun have a fair kick to it that would be quite noticeable?
posted by mattoxic at 6:08 PM on April 23, 2012


Presumably the Supreme Court will rule that owning quadcopters fitted with a machine gun is an inalienable Second Amendment right for all citizens just as the Founding Fathers originally intended, sooner rather later. And building and operating your own surveillance UAV drone (here's Francis "The Last Man" Fukuyama's) will be protected under the First.
posted by Bwithh at 7:02 PM on April 23, 2012


Quadcopters should be used to deliver tacos

Tacos should be delivered by Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:18 PM on April 23, 2012


Presumably the Supreme Court will rule that owning quadcopters fitted with a machine gun is an inalienable Second Amendment right for all citizens just as the Founding Fathers originally intended, sooner rather later. And building and operating your own surveillance UAV drone (here's Francis "The Last Man" Fukuyama's) will be protected under the First.

It strikes me as deeply weird that Francis Fukuyama seems to be spending his days like the people at my local hobbyist robotics club.
posted by heathkit at 8:13 PM on April 23, 2012


Video might be fake, but people's heads really do explode like that.
posted by LordSludge at 10:06 PM on April 23, 2012


The big clue that this is fake? The weapon in this thing is just a hose going into a barrel. There is no receiver (the part of the rifle that makes it a rifle).
posted by jcterminal at 3:37 AM on April 24, 2012


Oh, and here is an apparently real version.
posted by procrastination at 7:28 AM on April 25, 2012


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