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October 12, 2012 12:28 AM   Subscribe

If I Fly a UAV Over My Neighbor's House, Is It Trespassing? "The wide availability of UAV technology (combined with HD video) scrambles my sense of what is right. Specifically, it points out how much of our sense of privacy is intimately connected up with our expectations of our property rights. Drones - as flying, seeing objects - scramble our 2D sense of property boundaries, and along the way, make privacy much more complicated."

Also, Everyone Who Wants a Drone Will Have One Soon. "Let me posit this: Drones will make traditional fences as obsolete as gunpowder and cannons made city walls."
posted by paleyellowwithorange (67 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Interesting question. I can own the mineral rights under my home, but what about the air space above it? The Straight Dope has some answers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:39 AM on October 12, 2012


I drink your milkshake?
posted by Burhanistan at 12:41 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Court affirmed that "the air above the minimum safe altitude of flight... is a public highway and part of the public domain."

The minimum safe altitude for UAV drone flight is pretty low. Does this mean it isn't trespassing if I were to hover a camera-laden UAV four feet off the ground in my (hypothetical US-based) neighbours' garden, say, a couple of inches from a window?

I hope not. If so, that's a law that's ready for a revision.
posted by Dysk at 12:55 AM on October 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


The other question is: what if you have a small SAM equipped to take out said drones? Whose property rights are violated there?
posted by corb at 1:07 AM on October 12, 2012


If the airspace above your garden is indeed considered public road, you would be at fault for your SAM, much as if you fired an RPG at a passing car...
posted by Dysk at 1:17 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can own the mineral rights under my home...

In New York at least property ownership includes everything in the wedge down to the center of the earth.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:28 AM on October 12, 2012


If I were paparazzi, I would be rushing out to buy a UAV right now. Telephoto lens from a public road however far away? Pfft...
posted by Dysk at 1:47 AM on October 12, 2012


In New York at least property ownership includes everything in the wedge down to the center of the earth.

Surprising. I'm pretty sure it doesn't in my part of the world. Only because I asked my parents something along those lines when I was 12 and they muttered something about mineral leases.
posted by Jimbob at 2:01 AM on October 12, 2012


RC pilots ask each other thus question all the time. It's a bit of a legal grey area but the legal precedent is if it's low enough that the property owner cannot enjoy the property then it's trespassing. The courts usually interpret this as being treetop height.

So yes, four feet off the ground would be trespassing and could get you charged. Technically speaking that is, since I have never heard of an RC pilot being charged with aerial trespass. I have heard of people getting a warning but that's it.

FWIW I plan on building a "drone" (we would call it an FPV plane) in the near future. I already have a video transmitter and video goggles.
posted by smoothvirus at 2:31 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Minimum safe altitude" is a legal concept defined (in the US) by Federal Aviation Regulation Part 91, Section 91.119:

Minimum safe altitudes: General.

Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:
(a) Anywhere. An altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.
(b) Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.
(c) Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.
[ (d) Helicopters, powered parachutes, and weight-shift-control aircraft. If the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface--
(1) A helicopter may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (b) or (c) of this section, provided each person operating the helicopter complies with any routes or altitudes specifically prescribed for helicopters by the FAA; and
(2) A powered parachute or weight-shift-control aircraft may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in paragraph (c) of this section.]


However, it isn't clear to me whether the wording "no person may operate", which may have been intentional to provide a loophole for RC aviation, actually covers UAVs. In general, aviation regulations are having a lot of trouble following the development of UAVs.
posted by Skeptic at 3:02 AM on October 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


However, it isn't clear to me whether the wording "no person may operate", which may have been intentional to provide a loophole for RC aviation, actually covers UAVs. In general, aviation regulations are having a lot of trouble following the development of UAVs.

I think this is because the FAA is still trying to figure out what's what. FAR Part 91.119 is a pretty clear-cut reg for pilots, and if you get violated for it, it can carry some pretty steep penalties. Bit difficult to enforce at really low altitude, though. UAVs don't have big tail numbers you can call in, y'know?

UAVs are already becoming a concern for pilots in general, because they're so damned hard to see, and the operators can't practice the see-and-avoid techniques that general aviation pilots do. They can't make position calls on the radio, and unless you have radar contact/flight following from a controlling agency, they may not see the UAV either to give you a traffic advisory.

UAVs are changing the entire game in many ways. Not many of them are good right now.
posted by Thistledown at 4:46 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


They did this on Bones the other night to gather video evidence on a suspected white tiger smuggler. Luckily one of the lab guys also flies model Spitfires in his spare time.
Seems it's legit only so long as the person doing it is a certified hobbyist; at least, this was their legal angle.
posted by Flashman at 4:47 AM on October 12, 2012


Would my neighbor be able to sue me for damages if I destroyed his UAV while it hovered over my property?
posted by orme at 4:51 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


something about mineral leases.
posted by Jimbob


Above ground property can have easements, like the public paths to the beach, that are rights that continue even if the property is sold. Utility lines can be run over your property without your consent. But at some point those rights were taken by decree, granted, sold, or lost because they were not defended in a set amount of time.

In New York a property has an "as of right" height assigned to it, that determines how high you can build without special approval. Around here it's usually 6 to 12 stories. You can purchase the air rights from adjoining properties, and they are then permanently prevented from building up on their property.

Seems like a fair starting point would be that you have to stay out of the airspace that I currently have the right to build into.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:59 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I use "drone" imagery at work every so often -- low altitude photography that is collected using a whole variety of vehicles, from tiny blimps on a string to remote controlled multiple-rotor helicopters. It's a lot cheaper and higher resolution than having someone take photos from an airplane, so it's becoming more and more of a normal thing.

But two things stand out when using the imagery. One, that it is just ridiculously high resolution -- you can take a photo and zoom in down to individual leaves on a plant, say. Two, even when a contractor is using the loudest and buzziest of drone helicopters to collect the data, people tend to not notice. I am always seeing passersby inadvertantly wandering into the images, totally unaware that a drone is a couple of hundred feet overhead snapping photos.

Those two things tell me that with a regular, cheap, hobbyist drone set-up, everything bought over the counter, you could easily take photos of your friends and neighbors that would be the envy of every creepshot guy. People are not expecting this, and other than handing out shotguns and declaring open season on drones I'm not sure how you prevent it, either.

Seems like a fair starting point would be that you have to stay out of the airspace that I currently have the right to build into.

That's still low enough to take frighteningly high resolution photos of what you are doing in your backyard or, if the camera is mounted on a gimball of some kind, at an angle through your windows. Cameras are really good these days, and even really cheap drones can provide nice stable platforms.
posted by Forktine at 5:19 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


While I agree with the author that the growing popularity of recreational UAVs means that a growing number of drone hobbyists may need to familiarize themselves with airspace rights, I hate the way that he framed the issue:
The wide availability of UAV technology (combined with HD video) scrambles my sense of what is right.
These toys make it so easy to violate private property that he's not even sure it's wrong anymore? As if laws are only meant for restraining nefarious "other" people, and laws that impose on this guy's playtime therefore don't make sense?

Drones don't "make privacy much more complicated". They just introduce an easy way to invade people's privacy. That doesn't diminish the violation, and doesn't make it any less wrong.

(Remember that mosquito laser defense system? What would it take to scale that up for UAV targets?)
posted by ceribus peribus at 5:53 AM on October 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


you could easily take photos of your friends and neighbors that would be the envy of every creepshot guy.

And this is why I think the biggest legal challenges to U.S. RC hobbyists in the coming years are not just going to be at the federal level but at the state and municipal level as well. The first time there's some big story in the press about some child molester that was caught with a quad copter taking video of people's kids in the park will start the whole thing with dumb knee-jerk laws getting passed through state legislatures.
posted by smoothvirus at 5:56 AM on October 12, 2012


How difficult would it to create a jamming device which severed contact between the drone and its remote? I'm picturing something which would be activated when needed, rather than an always-on system.
posted by hippybear at 5:58 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


How difficult would it to create a jamming device which severed contact between the drone and its remote?

Depends on the band being used. Most RC stuff used to be in the 72mhz band and it was a pretty trivial thing to jam those transmitters. However in the last few years most RC transmitters have moved over to the 2.4ghz band, using digital spread-spectrum. Different brands (Futaba, Spektrum, etc.) use different schemes for the connection, some are more resistant to interference than others are.

Theoretically you could use a cell-phone jammer to jam a 2.4ghz RC transmitter but I don't really know how effective it would be. One things for sure - if you got caught with a jammer you're more likely to get in trouble than the guy trespassing with a drone.
posted by smoothvirus at 6:06 AM on October 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Eh, an older microwave rigged to run with the door should jam 2.4 GHz just fine.
posted by fragmede at 6:09 AM on October 12, 2012


I am an RC pilot and have thought about this more than I'd care to admit. I decided not to ever fly over people's homes because of a) respect and b) liability. It's a legal grey area - who knows what would happen in court at this moment. But if you crash onto someone's property or person, you're really going to fuck something or someone up, and I don't see how you could NOT be liable.

As far as jamming goes - that's work great if they're flying over your corn field, but if they're flying over your house in an urban area, you're just going to damage your property or your neighbors'. Worst case, bring down power lines, start a fire and/or kill someone. It's a bad idea.
posted by victory_laser at 6:13 AM on October 12, 2012


BUT, I should add -

what I said only applies to most drones. There currently are some smaller ones capable of carrying cameras that wouldn't do much damage if they crashed, and in the near future I'm sure they'll just get smaller and smaller. So jam away, mon.
posted by victory_laser at 6:17 AM on October 12, 2012


How difficult would it to create a jamming device which severed contact between the drone and its remote?

That would work great for a remote-controlled drone. A lot of the drones that produce the imagery I see, however, are autonomous -- they have a little gps receiver inside, and fly a preprogrammed route of points or lines in 3-d space. There's no signal to jam: the drone simply flies an assigned route, taking photos at selected intervals and/or locations, and returns when it is done. Again, this is pretty much off the shelf stuff, though not bargain basement, and doesn't take much more technical knowledge than your average person reading Metafilter might have.
posted by Forktine at 6:18 AM on October 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I sometimes think of these legal questions when I am having dreams where I know how to fly...
posted by Theta States at 6:18 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ignoring the flamethrower (as cool as that is), would it be permissible to shoot down a treapassing drone with a less destructive method? Say a super-soaker, a power-washer or a thrown baseball? (Even a gun if it could be assured that only the drone would be damaged?) Could this be seen as an extension of the castle doctrine?

New sign- No Trespassing, Drones will be destroyed.
posted by Hactar at 6:21 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Say a super-soaker, a power-washer or a thrown baseball? (Even a gun if it could be assured that only the drone would be damaged?) Could this be seen as an extension of the castle doctrine?


Doubtful.

Note that hitting a heavier UAV with water could result on it crashing on your neighbor's house, and you would be at least in part liable for that.

How difficult would it to create a jamming device which severed contact between the drone and its remote?

If there is a direct signal, technically not hard, clearly illegal on the face, and again, if jamming caused it to crash and hit the neighbor's house, you'd be at least partially liable.
posted by eriko at 6:27 AM on October 12, 2012


Agreeing with Forktine, the drones we have came with a tablet and mapping app. You just mark a route on the map then the drone flys the route marked by your waypoints. You can interrupt or abort a route in process, but you don't fly the drone. Jamming the drone would stop the control signals, without which the drone would go to the end of its route and hover, waiting new instructions. Eventually it would set down automatically, at the end of it's battery life.

These things also will not fly above their regulated ceiling altitude. Type in higher than the max altitude on the tablet and it just throws a "too high" error.

We used to use standard RC helicopters, but they were so hard to fly, so twitchy and unforgiving that we had to have people training on them constantly to become even good enough for simple flight paths. We still lost a bunch to crashes. The newer quad-rotor UAVs are amazingly easier to use.
posted by bonehead at 6:29 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Say a super-soaker, a power-washer or a thrown baseball?

The ZF-1 comes with all the Zorg oldies but goodies, including their famous net launcher.
posted by ceribus peribus at 6:34 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Legal or not, I will be utterly unsurprised when we find bullet holes on our drones. The biggest losses of oceanographic buoys are fisherman picking them up despite big "return for reward, property of XX" stickers on the side of them. We have to budget for "loss" in hydrodynamics studies, mostly to fill peoples' trophy walls.

Last year, our UAVs were about $10,000 each, so that not a trivial cost, either.
posted by bonehead at 6:37 AM on October 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I was a zoning inspector 20 odd years ago I knew several "diligent" neighborhood representatives that would have loved to have a drone keeping an eye on "those renters" across the street. They could leave their stepping stools (to peek over fences) at home.
posted by incandissonance at 7:04 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


These toys make it so easy to violate private property that he's not even sure it's wrong anymore? As if laws are only meant for restraining nefarious "other" people, and laws that impose on this guy's playtime therefore don't make sense?

I don't think that's true at all. It sounds more like it is a "I want to drive as fast as I can without breaking the law, but there is no speed limit posted on this lonely road" issue.

We know you can fly over a house in manned airplanes or helicopters and take imagery if we like. But we also know we can't stick a video camera on a boom and take video over our neighbor's fence. So it's a perfectly legitimate question to ask where the line is.

A somewhat similar question will have to be answered when we get our flying cars.
posted by gjc at 7:08 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


they have a little gps receiver inside [...] there's no signal to jam
Um, how do you think GPS works, exactly? It's radio, and not very high powered radio either.

People have already forced the high-priced drones to go to the wrong places by GPS spoofing.
posted by Hizonner at 7:53 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


we also know we can't stick a video camera on a boom and take video over our neighbor's fence
Even here there's a slight grey area: does the design of the boom matter? For instance, most of my neighbors have elevated camera platforms that can see over my privacy fence. Is it illegal for them to film toward my house from those platforms? Does it matter if the platforms do double-duty as second-story bedrooms? Does it matter if they're *just* trying to film my backyard or if they're filming subjects in their own houses and/or yards at the same time?

When my parents' house was burglarized last year, the thieves were caught thanks to their neighbor's surveillance webcam. I could put up such a webcam myself, and if a string of recent neighborhood vandalism incidents spreads to my street then it might pay off, but in my case there would be no way to securely position a street-facing camera that wasn't also backyard-across-the-street-facing. Legal, or not? (For that matter, moral or not?)
posted by roystgnr at 8:01 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


hippybear: "How difficult would it to create a jamming device which severed contact between the drone and its remote? I'm picturing something which would be activated when needed, rather than an always-on system."

Or, for that matter, picks up the transmissions THEN activates.
posted by Samizdata at 8:04 AM on October 12, 2012


Bonehead and Forktine, I'm really curious about the work you're doing using drones. Are either of you in the US? I was under the impression that the only current way to operate any kind of UAV legally in the US was to:

a) be an approved government agency
b) be an approved manufacturer
c) operate within the regulations for RC aircraft

And that option c completely ruled out using them for any commercial purpose. Has the law finally been clarified? I've often thought I could make a nice part-time business out of cheaper, on-demand areal photos for a number of purposes, but I was under the impression that I'd be guilty of unlicensed operation of a commercial aircraft as soon as I tried.
posted by CHoldredge at 8:04 AM on October 12, 2012


Yeah, it's good to explore where the legal boundary actually lies; I just found his presumptions to be a little naive. People have been known to cut down tree branches that extend over property lines, and build fences one inch on their side of the line so that neighbors can't legally tear the fence down.

Just because a neighbor's fence is eight feet tall instead of 80 stories tall isn't an invitation to fly in a UAV at a ten foot altitude. This guy wanted to use his UAV to root through the neighborhood searching for a feral tomcat in people's gardens and backyards, places he recognizes he wouldn't be able to walk through. His description of "2D sense of property boundaries" sounds like a game of hopscotch or something, where his UAV would be okay everywhere since it never touches the ground.
posted by ceribus peribus at 8:16 AM on October 12, 2012


Um, how do you think GPS works, exactly? It's radio, and not very high powered radio either.

Well, if you want to go to the extent of jamming or spoofing satellite GPS signals, be my guest. I was making a distinction between a remote-controlled drone and one that follows a predetermined flight path using GPS or other navigational tools, since it sounded like some people were under the impression that all drones are under ground control at all times.

And that option c completely ruled out using them for any commercial purpose.

Honestly I don't know anything about the law, I'm just an extremely occasional end-user of the imagery. Whether it is fully legal or in a grey area people are definitely collecting drone imagery on a commercial basis, though I know that the rules have been changing.

I assume it's been the subject of an FPP before, but I can't glance at DIY Drones without wanting to build one.
posted by Forktine at 8:21 AM on October 12, 2012


CHoldredge, we are not in the US. Our regs are a bit different from yours.
posted by bonehead at 8:31 AM on October 12, 2012


Drones don't "make privacy much more complicated". They just introduce an easy way to invade people's privacy. That doesn't diminish the violation, and doesn't make it any less wrong.

I'm not sure that's true.
Back when I was a kid, the cool thing was model rockets with a little 5 shot camera in them.
You'd shoot it up, take a few blurry pictures, it was fun.
Neat to get a different perspective on the place you spend the majority of your time.

With the drones, you can do essentially the same thing, but rather than a few blurry pictures, you get a high-resolution video of your surroundings.

Now, most people aren't ever going to complain about a someone in the park across the street taking a few pictures with a rocket. It's just not really a privacy invasion.

But a drone, which is essentially just the rocket with better technology, is a different story.
It makes something that was previously considered private public, even though the airspace was never private, it was just mostly inaccessible.
posted by madajb at 8:32 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks, both of you. I get the impression that US law's fuzzy state is different from, and well behind, almost every other country. I think I'll still avoid taking out an ad in Realtor Magazine until it gets clarified.
posted by CHoldredge at 8:42 AM on October 12, 2012


But blurry pictures from a distance vs high res pictures from not far away have a markedly different level of privacy intrusion. Just because I don't mind accidentally appearing in the background of someone's photo from a block away doesn't mean it's "redefining what's considered public" if that person wants to stand outside my window and film me eating breakfast.

We've mostly agreeing, I think. I'm just asserting that it's not the expected level of privacy that's changing, it's the ability to intrude in cheap, cost effective ways that's new.
posted by ceribus peribus at 8:48 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah, and it looks like some fellow in LA had the exact same real estate idea, had a nice business going, and was told to cut it out, but by the LAPD, not the FAA. US law on this is a mess.

For now, it seems pretty clear that if the insurance investigator is hovering a quadracopter over your pool to count how many laps you can swim, your local police can make him stop. If your neighbor's doing it because he's a creepy prodnose, who knows?
posted by CHoldredge at 8:50 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is a difference between the trespass and privacy issues. The latter revolves around "reasonable expectation of privacy." Even in public you can't record remote conversations with a directional mic. Interestingly, perhaps as these drones become commonplace, the expectation of privacy will be legally diminished.

Making a jammer is easy, but not legal. A neon light transformer bridged with a spark gap, with one side grounded and the other side connected to an antenna, will jam everything in the vicinity at all frequencies.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:02 AM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


we also know we can't stick a video camera on a boom and take video over our neighbor's fence

What about a tethered blimp? Ignoring powerline issues, can I send up a blimp/balloon a few hundred feet in my backyard and surveil the neighborhood? Does it change things if the wind pushes the blimp so that it is hovering over my neighbor's swimming pool?

I think these kinds of questions feel new because these drone and other low altitude imagery technologies were developed in more straightforward contexts, like surveying for mining and archeology, or for the military for overseas use in combat. Now that it is coming home and your local police department probably has a drone or two, and any hobbyist with a few dollars can set up their own drone surveillance program, we are having to grapple with this.

It's not just drones -- the cost of all these remote sensing technologies is dropping fast. There was an FPP the other day about street mapping, with a link to an article about one of the mapping companies driving their cars up and down city streets, as has become normal these days. What caught me was that they are using side-scanning LIDAR in addition to the photos and GPS -- I'm not sure that everyone would be totally comfortable if they knew that it is now trivially easy to drive around and create incredibly precise three dimensional models of your house. It's just new, and I just don't think we've totally thought through the ways this kind of data is both exciting and problematic.
posted by Forktine at 9:07 AM on October 12, 2012


Just because I don't mind accidentally appearing in the background of someone's photo from a block away doesn't mean it's "redefining what's considered public" if that person wants to stand outside my window and film me eating breakfast.

I think you're right in that it's the continuous and targeted nature that is the real sticking point.

As someone mentioned up thread, a lot of people have neighbors that can see into their backyards from a second story window or deck, and most of them don't care if the neighbor glances over while going about their business.

But if you had a neighbor who hung out all day in the window with binoculars, watching your activities, well, that'd be an AskMe question pretty quick.

Same with drones, an overflight from a hobbyist, most people wouldn't make a fuss.
A drone circling over your backyard or neighborhood every day would make people uncomfortable.
posted by madajb at 9:09 AM on October 12, 2012


I fail to see the issue, here. If drones are a problem because (for example) they let you see into areas that are covered by fences, then why aren't second floor windows a problem?

Looking into people's windows is already covered by existing law.

People like to go into hysterics whenever a new technology enters common use, but realistically it's not any situation we've not already dealt with, as a society, for a very long time.

Hell, to me the biggest issue of drones and private property would be one of recovery if one went down: say i'm flying a drone and the control locks out, and it flies into private property and wrecks; how do i go about recovering it without trespassing? What if the home owner refuses to return it or something?
posted by dethb0y at 9:44 AM on October 12, 2012


I have a couple of $40 keychain cameras that I got off Ebay which I can attach to my RC gliders with a bit of velcro. They shoot video in 720p so I have used them to fly over the soccer park near my house and take aerial videos of the neighborhood from about 500 feet up.

One thing to keep in mind though, is that the lens on these cheap cameras is tiny and it can't zoom. So you wouldn't be able to see inside someone's windows or really even recognize someone walking down a street with them. To do that kind of stuff you need a much more expensive camera and a gimbal.

Anyhow I had them on YouTube for a while but then some busybody started going through videos shot with the same type of camera, from a location in the same county I live in, and reported it all to the FAA. My videos all came down the next day, from here on out I'll just keep them to myself.
posted by smoothvirus at 9:50 AM on October 12, 2012


Looking into people's windows is already covered by existing law.

Yes, exactly. There are laws for this sort of thing, whether you're using binoculars, a telescope, directional mic, wall penetrating radar, or drone mounted video cameras. There are also trespassing laws that apply whether you're walking, roller skating, parachuting, ballooning, tunnelling, high jumping, or sending in UAVs over private property.

The ideas that the author touches on at the end -- that somehow we'll change the nature of private property or privacy because of widespread UAV use -- I find kind of ridiculous. We're not going to tolerate trespass and privacy violations when the peeping tom is using video drones instead of a telescope. People are going to be expected to use these new technologies while respecting the same legal restrictions that have always existed.

When airplanes were invented, we carved out a large public airspace over a certain altitude for everyone to use (subject to air traffic control and overflight fees) but it's not like we're going to decide to cast off certain kinds of privacy and/or property claims for unrestricted use by the drone hobbyist public.
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:52 AM on October 12, 2012


Jamming any authorized transmission is illegal. From http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/jammerenforcement/jamfaq.pdf: "Section 333 of the Communications Act: 'No person shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communications of any station licensed or authorized by or under [the Communications] Act or operated by the United States Government.'"

Besides fully autonomous drones being easy & cheap to build or buy, modern RC systems are Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) which is designed to be highly resistant to jamming and interference.

GPS jamming can be effective for sure, but it's a pretty extreme measure. "You know who else jams GPS?" North Korea. And the jamming seems to have caused the death of a drone operator.
posted by jjwiseman at 11:15 AM on October 12, 2012


The day is inevitable way when you can purchase a flea sized drone and fly it into Lady Gaga's dressing room and spy on her and that class of person will never have a moment alone. Bentham's panopticon. It won't be the prison wardens with the power though it will be the paparazzi.
posted by bukvich at 12:04 PM on October 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Having not read the entire thread yet, I apologize if someone else has pointed this out.

It should be obvious (heh) that if you are spying on your neighbor, it's trespassing.

If the government is spying on you, however, it's not.

I hope this clears things up.

Also, some drones I've drawn.

posted by mmrtnt at 12:14 PM on October 12, 2012


You can purchase the air rights from adjoining properties...

Isn't that what Cher used to save her club in the movie "Burlesque"?

posted by mmrtnt at 12:22 PM on October 12, 2012


>...doesn't take much more technical knowledge than your average person reading Metafilter might have.

Overestimate at your peril, sir.

posted by mmrtnt at 12:37 PM on October 12, 2012


So instead of a fence to keep out the young ruffians I need to build an HPA potato bofors?

Damn kids these days.
posted by Slackermagee at 2:33 PM on October 12, 2012


Drone Pilot Discovers River of Meat Blood
posted by homunculus at 4:58 PM on October 12, 2012


Seattle police seek more drones while two sit unused
posted by homunculus at 5:01 PM on October 12, 2012


again, if jamming caused it to crash and hit the neighbor's house, you'd be at least partially liable.

Only if they can figure out who did it.
posted by hippybear at 7:20 PM on October 12, 2012


How effective would wrapping a reflective (what material?) hyperbolic shroud over a microwave coil be for shooting stuff down?

I guess it wouldn't go through glass so you'd have to stick it out the window or something first.
posted by porpoise at 7:41 PM on October 12, 2012


As Drone Debate Rages, Police Move on to Million-Dollar Spy Planes
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:40 AM on October 16, 2012


This Eagle-Eyed Heron UAV Can See From Tel Aviv to Cyprus
posted by homunculus at 1:00 PM on October 17, 2012


The Bizarre Story of How Drones Helped Get Us Into the Iraq War
posted by homunculus at 1:05 PM on October 17, 2012


porpoise writes "How effective would wrapping a reflective (what material?) hyperbolic shroud over a microwave coil be for shooting stuff down?

I guess it wouldn't go through glass so you'd have to stick it out the window or something first.
"

You just need to sheet metal and I'd bet you want a wave guide similar to those used in radar guns. They aren't very complicated; the hot wheels radar guns used a simple metal tube IIRC.
posted by Mitheral at 8:47 AM on October 20, 2012


EFF and MuckRock Have Filed Over 200 Records Requests On Drones And The Results Are Pouring In
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:15 AM on October 23, 2012


Drones and Swarm Bots Working Together Is an Adorable Preview of Mankind’s Downfall
posted by homunculus at 12:30 PM on October 24, 2012


Boeing's CHAMP missile uses radio waves to remotely disable PCs
posted by homunculus at 12:33 PM on October 24, 2012


New Breed of Flying Robot Sees and Avoids Obstacles With Real Time 3D Vision
posted by homunculus at 11:00 AM on November 1, 2012


Mass. man sentenced to 17 years in plot to use remote-controlled planes to blow up Pentagon
posted by homunculus at 11:57 AM on November 2, 2012


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