Dec 14, 2015
All over the world in different countries, cultures, tongues, and colors are people who have the same basic desire for happiness and respect from his fellow men. We are the same all
over as members of the human race. If we honor each other's boundaries with propriety and consideration our voyage thru life can be rich in knowledge and friendship..........AMOR
People and Places
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
DOMESTIC USE OF DRONES MAKE PRIVACY ADVOCATES
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Page 1 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
The discovery by the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (3 October 2012) that, Despite reviewing 13 months worth
of reporting originating from fusion centers from April 1, 2009 to April 30, 2010, the Subcommittee investigation could identify no reporting which
uncovered a terrorist threat, nor could it identify a contribution such fusion center reporting made to disrupt an active terrorist plot means that there
is no evidence of the existence of any domestic terrorist threat. On that basis, it is rational to infer (with high probability) that there is no domestic
We also know that there are 300 or more FEMA camps distributed around the country. We know that Congress has authorized 30,000 drones to conduct
surveillance on the American people. We know that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had requisitioned 1.5 billion rounds of .40 calibre
hollow-point ammunition, which is not even permissible for use in warfare under the Geneva Conventions. Since DHS does not conduct operations
abroad, it is rational to infer (with virtual certainty) that DHS must be acquiring that massive stock of ammo for use in the United States.
And we now learn that Congress is in the process of passing H.R. 6566, The Mass Fatality Planning and Religious Considerations Act, which was posted
on the govtrack.us website FEMA To Mobilize For Mass Fatality Planning (5 October 2012), mandating federal agency to respond to funeral homes,
cemeteries, and mortuaries being overwhelmed in the aftermath of a mass terror attack, natural disaster or other crisis. It was posted this after
having been approved by the House on 28 September 2012. Not to make an obvious point, but there is no domestic terrorist threat and no
conceiveable natural disaster could possibly justify this dramatic authorization for coping with staggering numbers of bodies.
But these innocent-looking devices are actually some of the most
sophisticated drones on the planet.
The U.S. Air Force is developing the miniature spy craft with the goal of
making them so small that they resemble birds and even insects.
Domestic Drone Spying in America
On January 10, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) staff
attorney Jennifer Lynch headlined, Are Drones Watching You?
Micro-machines are go: The U.S. military
drones that are so small they even look
They look like children's toys that are left discarded in wardrobes around
Page 2 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
Scroll down for video
Causing quite a buzz: Lead researcher Dr Gregory Parker holds a small,
winged drone that resembles an insect. The U.S. military's goal is to make
the devices so small that they resemble birds and even insects
Some even have moving wings that military chiefs hope will look so
convincing that people won't pay them any attention.
The Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) are being developed at Wright-Patterson Air
Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
The base's Air Force Research Laboratory mission is to develop MAVs that
can find, track and target adversaries while operating in complex urban
The engineers, led by Dr Gregory Parker, are using a variety of small
helicopters and drones in the lab to develop the programs and software.
Testing takes place in a controlled indoor environment, during which data
is gathered to analyse for further development.
EFF sued the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for
information on domestic drone use. Whos flying UAVs it asked?
Drones carry surveillance equipment, including video cameras,
infrared ones, heat sensors, and radar for sophisticated virtually
constant spying. Newer versions carry super high resolution
gigapixel cameras. They enable tracking above 20,000 feet.
They can monitor up to 65 enemies simultaneously, and can see
targets up to 25 miles away.
Predator drones can eavesdrop on electronic transmissions. A
new models able to penetrate Wi-Fi networks and intercept text
messages and cell phone calls covertly.
Even domestically, drones may be weaponized with tasers, bean
bag guns, and other devices able to harm or perhaps kill.
Currently, the US Customs and Border Protection uses UAVs for
surveilling borders. State and local law enforcement agencies
also use them to investigate cattle rustling, drug dealing, and
the search for missing persons.
Flying above 400 feet requires FAA certification. Informations
unavailable on who obtained authorizations for what purposes.
FAA comes under the Department of Transportation (DOT). It
failed to respond to EFFs April 2011 FOIA request. EFF attorney
Drones give the government and other (UAV) operators a
powerful new surveillance tool to gather extensive and intrusive
data on Americans movements and activities.
As the government begins to make policy decisions about the
use of these aircraft, the public needs to know more about how
and why these drones are being used to surveil United States
Drones could dramatically increase the physical tracking of
citizens tracking that can reveal deeply personal details about
our private lives. Were asking the DOT to follow the law and
respond to our FOIA request so we can learn more about what
the public has a right to know.
Page 3 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
An insect-sized drone. The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory's mission is
to develop MAVs that can find, track and target adversaries while
operating in complex urban environments
The Supreme Court hasnt been people friendly on many issues,
including privacy. In United States v. Place (1983), the court
held that sniffs by police dogs trained to detect illegal drugs
arent searches under the Fourth Amendment.
Theyre sui generis, intended only to reveal the presence or
absence of narcotics. In other words, Fourth Amendment
protections dont apply to non-human searchers. As a result,
privacy rights are on the chopping block for elimination.
Already, in fact, theyre gravely compromised under
institutionalized Bush administration surveillance policy.
In 2007, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) authorized
spying through the National Applications Office (NOA). It was
described as the executive agent to facilitate the use of
intelligence community technological assets for civil, homeland
security and law enforcement purposes within the United
With or without congressional authorization or oversight, the
executive branch may authorize state-of-the-art technology,
including military satellite imagery, to spy on Americans
Though initial plans were delayed, eye in the sky spying ahead
potentially will monitor everyone everywhere once full
implementations achieved. Included will be thousands of Big
Brother drones watching.
On February 3, the FAA Reauthorization Act (HR 658) cleared
both houses of Congress after differences between Senate and
House versions were resolved. Expect Obama to sign it shortly.
It authorizes domestic drone spying under provisions to test and
license commercial drones by 2015. Estimates of up to 30,000
UAVs could overfly America by 2020. Privacy advocates are
concerned. Steven Aftergood, head of the Federation of
American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy, said:
There are serious policy questions on the horizon about privacy
and surveillance, by both government agencies and commercial
Page 4 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
You'll believe a toy can spy: First Lieutenant Greg Sundbeck (left) and Dr
Parker watch a test flight of a drone
The trials are the latest research into tiny drones funded by the U.S.
The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has spent years
developing a whole host of cyborg critters, in the hopes of creating the
ultimate 'fly on the wall'.
Two years ago, researchers revealed that they had created cyborg beetles
that can be guided wirelessly via a laptop.
Using implants, they worked out how to control a beetle's take-off, flight
and landing by stimulating the brain to work the wings.
First Lieutenant Sundbeck prepares a computer controlled drone for a
test flight in the microaviary lab at Wright Patterson Air Force Base
According to Electronic Privacy Information Centers Amie
Stepanovich, Currently, the only barrier to the routine use of
drones for persistent surveillance are the procedural
requirements imposed by the FAA for the issuance of
Changing the rules changes the game. Expect it. Its coming once
Obama signs HR 658. UAV proliferation already is expanding
rapidly. A July 2010 FAA Fact Sheet said in America alone,
approximately 50 companies, universities, and government
organizations are developing and producing some 155 unmanned
Americas expected to account for about 70% of global growth.
In 2011, Congress, DOD, state and local governments, as well as
AUVSI pressured the FAA to review and expand its current
Certificate of Authorization or Waiver (COA) program related
to unmanned aircraft (UA).
The agencys also examining its own rules for small UAs. Its
expected to authorize expanded COA use shortly.
On February 6, the ACLU headlined, Congress Trying to Fast-
Track Domestic Drone Use, Sideline Privacy, saying:
In fact, Congress already authorized expanded domestic drones.
Obamas poised to sign HR 658 into law. Provisions in it include
(1) to simplify and accelerate permission for drone operations.
The agencys already working on loosening regulations by spring
(2) to establish a pilot project within six months for six test
zones to integrate drones into the national airspace system.
(3) create a comprehensive plan within nine months to safely
accelerate the integration of civil (privately operated)
unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.
Page 5 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
What on the outside appears cheap is actually camouflaged and
sophisticated military equipment
They controlled turns through stimulating the basilar muscles on one side
or the other to make the wings on that side flap harder.
The embedded system uses nerve and muscle stimulators, a microbattery
and a microcontroller with transceiver.
They were implanted in the beetles when they were at the pupal stage.
Three types of large beetles from Cameroon were used in the
experiments at the University of California in Berkeley. The smallest was
2cm long, while the largest was 20cm.
(4) after submitting a comprehensive plan, publish final rules
within 18 months to allow civil operation of small (under 55
pounds) drones in Americas airspace.
On December 15, the ACLU published a report titled,
Protecting Privacy From Aerial Surveillance: Recommendations
for Government Use of Drone Aircraft, saying:
Theyre coming to America. Privacy may be seriously
compromised. Protections are urgently needed. The report
recommends that drones should not be deployed unless there
are grounds to believe that they will collect evidence on a
If a drone will intrude on reasonable privacy expectations, a
warrant should be required. The report also urges restrictions
on retaining images of identifiable people, as well as an open
process for developing policies on how drones will be used.
Overflying America with drones unrestrained changes the game.
A surveillance society will be institutionalized to monitor,
track, and record our every move.
Given a bipartisan penchant for spying, expect the worst.
Privacy, like other civil and human rights, is fast disappearing
under policies in place or coming to destroy it.
The age of Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) UAV is coming; for now, use
of these types of drones for high-risk law enforcement purposes
is rare, although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plans
to implement new rules that would allow the routine flying of
these drones across the United States by 2013; equipped with
high-resolution, infrared and thermal-imaging cameras, these
drones could provide police with the accurate monitoring of all
types of civilian areas and topographies; privacy advocates worry
Page 6 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
First Lieutenant Zachary Goff operates the control console during a test
flight at the Micro Air Vehicles lab
The appeal of a drone, or unmanned aircraft, is obvious: avoid putting a
pilot in danger and slip behind enemy lines with increasingly small, light
and quiet machines.
Now, a Northern California-based aerospace company has unveiled the
smallest drone yet that can carry weapons behind enemy lines (and
hopefully not impale our troops, as humorously shown in a recent episode
of the TV show 'Weeds'.)
The Arcturus company is showing its new T-20 drone off at the Special
Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Florida.
Launching the WASP micro-UAV // Source: defense-update.com
AeroVironments (AV) Wasp is a Micro Air Vehicle (MAV) that
provided Texas law enforcement officers and SWAT members
with the confidence to raid and successfully detain a highly
armed and dangerous suspect.
The aerial sweep of the suspects property was the first ever
accomplished by a drone in the state which did not involve
border patrol. The drones use foreshadows what some contend
is an invasion of privacy through the misuse of technology.
Reaching heights of up to 400 feet, these small, portable, and
rugged unmanned aerial platforms were designed for front-line
day/night reconnaissance and surveillance by AV and the
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). For now,
use of these types of drones for high-risk law enforcement
purposes is rare, although the Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) plans to implement new rules that would allow the routine
flying of these drones across the United States by 2013.
Equipped with high-resolution, infrared and thermal-imaging
cameras, these drones could provide police with the accurate
monitoring of all types of civilian areas and topographies.
According to legal experts, police will still have to attain
warrants prior to spying on private residences of interest. A
report by the Washington Post details how as of 1 December
Page 7 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
Testing: An Arcturus T-20 drone on a test flight at Camp Roberts in
California. The drone may become the smallest yet to carry weapons, if
current tests with the U.S. military pan out
The T-20 has a 17-foot wingspan, putting it in the so-called Tier II class of
unmanned aircraft. The company claims the device can carry up to 65
pounds of payload, 'in excess of 16 hours'. Most of the fuel is stored in the
wings, leaving more room for cargo and camera equipment, which can
beam back live video to the operators. The company's website states: 'A
retracting sensor gives a full 360 degree unobstructed field of view'. It is
powered by a 10-horsepower, four-stroke engine and boasts a system of
removable pallets 'for ease of payload swapping'. The new drone is a bit
smaller than the Shadow drone already in use by the U.S. Army and Marine
The T-20 is billed primarily as a spy craft, although Wired.com reports
that an example shown in Tampa boasts a small missile strapped on the
underside of its left wing.
Wired.com wrote: 'Thats a Saber, a 10-pound laser-guided missile
manufactured by MBDA.
'In tests, Arcturus discovered that the wings of its drone can carry 22
pounds worth of cargo, making it a candidate to wield MBDAs missiles'.
Arcturus engineer Eric Folkestad told Wired: 'No one else can do that in
our size category'.
2010, the FAA allowed more than 270 authorizations for the use
of varying types of drones, of which 35 percent were held by the
Defense Department, 11 percent by NASA, and 5 percent by
DHS. Since the aforementioned search and seizure of the
suspect in Austin, the department of public safety in Texas has
run six operations using drones to conduct surveillance of drug
and human traffickers at the southern border.
The drones effectiveness, cost, and simplicity are helping to
boost the allure of the technology; interest by the United
Kingdom might lead to aerial surveillance for the 2012 Olympics
in London. An entire system, along with the ground operating
computer amounts to less than $50,000 compared to the
approximate cost of $1 million for a helicopter. This disparity in
cost is the reason why fewer than 300 of the approximately
19,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States have an
Before opening up the airspace to drone technology, the FAA
will be addressing whether unmanned aircraft will be able to
handle communication, command, and control, as well as how
their ability to sense and avoid other aircraft, since the
drones typically operate in a battlefield environment.
For the technology currently being used by the CIA to ferret out terrorist
leaders in the hills of Pakistan is set to arrive in a neighbourhood near you
- and there's nowhere to hide.
Page 8 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
Ready to launch: An Arcturus T-20 loaded on a pneumatic catapult, with
two guided parafoil systems mounted under the wings
ARCTURUS T-20 SPECS
* Wingspan: 207 (configurable)
* Length: 113
* Power: 10 horsepower
* Max Payload: 65+ lbs
* Empty weight: 80 lbs
* Gross weight: 150+ lbs
* Max Duration: 16+ hours
* Max Height: 15,000 feet
The website reports that the U.S. military has been trying to put weapons
on Shadow drones, without success.
The larger Predator drones already carry Hellfire missiles, and are
increasingly being used against suspected terrorists in the Middle East and
There has been talk of trying to use Predator drones to assassinate Libya's
Colonel Gaddafi, if he could be precisely located.
Coming to a sky near you? A remote CCTV camera drone circles in the sky
during a political rally in Britain last year. Drones are set to play a large
part in the future of policing - but could they affect our personal lives
Personal drones - smaller, private versions of the infamous Predator - are
the next hot technology for people looking to track celebrities, cheating
lovers, or even wildlife.
And it could be a dream tool for the paparazzi, named after the Iralian for
Now the metaphor is coming to life. Several personal drones are
scheduled for completion next year.
A police constable in Liverpool tries out the force's new remote-
controlled UAV. Liverpool police have already used such drones to make
at least one arrest
Page 9 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
However, Pakistan recently called for an end to drone strikes in their
Mr Folkestad told Wired 12 of the drones have been shipped to Marines,
Navy and Air Force in the past 18 months for testing.
'If it gets the thumbs up, then ever-smaller units will command their own
flying killer robots, another step in the proliferation of drone warfare',
the website wrote.
The T-20 has a modular design so it can be easily disassembled and
packed up for portage by commandos in the field. The plane weighs 100
Like the Shadow, it is launched from a pneumatic catapult.
According to the manufacturer, the T-20 needs no runway to use. Instead,
it can land on its belly, even in fairly rough terrain.
A replaceable belly skid is designed to absorb the impact of landing, and is
said to be easy to swap out in minutes.
'Any reasonably level open space is all you need to operate', says the
The drone has a maximum height of 15,000 feet.
That's enough to get quite a bird's eye view of enemy territory. And
maybe enough to fire a missile or two, then dash away.The officer can see from the drone's perspective using a special pair of
Already in the UK police are using drones to track thieves. In February,
the Air Robot was deployed by Merseyside police after officers lost an
alleged car thief who had escaped on foot in thick fog.
Using the device's on-board camera and thermal-imaging technology, the
operator was able to pick up the suspect through his body heat and direct
foot patrols to his location.
It led officers to a 16-year-old youth, who was hiding in bushes alongside
the Leeds-Liverpool canal, in Litherland, Merseyside.
The drone, which measures 3ft between the tips of its four carbon fibre
rotor blades, uses unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology originally
designed for military reconnaissance.
The Mantis can fly for 24 hours without refuelling, do the surveillance job of four helicopters, acquire
its own enemy targets and deliver a deadly payload - all without a pilot and crew. But should we be
afraid of Britain's new robotic air force?
Page 10 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
The Mantis carries no human crew. The plane is controlled by a set of
computer components not that far removed from the chips and boards
inside a high-end personal laptop
The aircraft is the size of a medium range bomber, with huge grey wings
stretching 70ft across the hangar. It looks for all the world like any
conventional aircraft - the wings, the nose, the wheels are all familiar.
The engineers standing in front of it are dwarfed by its bulk. Modules
beneath the wings can carry air-to-ground missiles and precision-guided
Other racks on the nose can carry surveillance equipment so advanced it
can decrypt and listen to mobile phone messages instantly as it flies over,
at heights of up to 60,000ft. It takes a while for you to notice the most
important fact - there is no cockpit. There are no windows anywhere on
the craft, - and no doors.
The Mantis carries no human crew - one of the reasons it can stay
airborne for 24 hours. The plane is controlled by a set of computer
components not that far removed from the chips and boards inside a high-
end personal laptop. But unlike the American Predator and Reaper drones
now flying over Afghanistan and Pakistan, this isn't flown by pilots via
satellite control from a bunker outside Las Vegas. It flies itself.
The aircraft is sitting in the hangars of BAE Systems, just outside Preston -
next to an airfield where Eurofighters are shooting vertically upwards
from a take-off strip. The site is vast, with limousines ferrying suited
executives from one part to another, and visitors carefully shepherded
only into the areas they are cleared to see.
To enter Mantis's hangar, you have to pass through a glass cubicle that
scans for any transmitting equipment - phones and cameras are strictly
forbidden. A recording suddenly blares, 'Mobile phone detected!' as one of
my hosts remembers he has a BlackBerry in his coat. I'm allowed to see
Mantis, but not to know where the aircraft is currently flying.
The battery-powered device can have a range of cameras attached to its
main body, including CCTV surveillance or thermal imaging cameras.
It is designed to hover almost silently above crime scenes and send live
footage to officers on the ground, but the unit can also 'perch and stare'
from a solid platform, allowing the operator to capture hours of footage
from a hidden vantage point.
Merseyside Police is one of a handful of forces trying out the devices
which, at 40,000 each, are far cheaper to use for small-scale operations
than a conventional helicopter.
They have been using the drones for two years, mainly to help in search
and rescue operations, to execute drug warrants and to crack down on
The Home Office is now exploring how the craft can be used to give back-
up to police, ambulance and fire services.
A Predator drone like the ones used to hunt down terrorist leaders in
Pakistan (file photo). The military must follow rules of engagement with
such technology, but there are no such rules governing private use yet
Spy drones are considered the future of policing, although critics have
voiced concerns that they could be a worrying extension of Big Brother
Last month arms manufacturer BAE Systems said it was adapting military-
style UAVs for a consortium of government agencies led by Kent police.
Documents showed the force hoped to begin using the drones in time for
the 2012 Olympics.
Page 11 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
The Mantis on the runway
Mantis isn't a 'drone'. It's a robotic aircraft. It's among the first of a new
breed of armed UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) that can take off, fly, plot
courses and even acquire targets for itself, and the UK is at the forefront
of this new technology. The Mantis only needs human beings for one thing
- to pull the trigger.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - with their political pressure for low
casualties - have caused an explosion in demand for craft that need less
and less human input. The spectacle of captured pilots was a staple of the
first Iraq war and other conflicts around the Middle East. It's a vision that
has been absent from the news this time round for one simple reason:
there are now fewer pilots.
Laptop parts, satellite connections and software are doing it instead.
There are now 12,000 UAVs, used for everything from surveillance to
search and destroy missions. In less than a decade, the business of
unmanned aircraft has gone from being a minor, specialist sector to being
worth 9 billion.
But they also indicated that the drones could eventually be used to spy on
the civilian population, by rooting out motorists suspected of antisocial
driving, for covert urban surveillance and to monitor 'waste management'
for local councils.
Similar concepts are already being developed in the U.S.
'If the Israelis can use them to find terrorists, certainly a husband is going
to be able to track a wife who goes out at 11 o'clock at night and follow
her,' New York divorce lawyer Raoul Felder told the Journal.
The technology is swiftly moving beyond military and even police circles -
already unmanned aircraft that can fly predetermined routes cost just a
few hundred dollars and can be operated by an iPhone.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and former Navy fighter
pilot Missy Cummings is working to develop a 'Personal Sentry' drone
about the size of a pizza box that warns soldiers if danger is approaching
But, she said, 'that military stuff is kind of passe'.
'It doesn't take a rocket scientist from MIT to tell you if we can do it for a
soldier in the field, we can do it for anybody.'
She told the Wall Street Journal that she could use such technology to
follow her young child on the way to school by planting an electronic bug
in her lunch box or backpack.
'It would bring a whole new meaning to the term hover parent,' she said.
The FAA has not approved the use of personal drones just yet. But a
spokesman said the agency is working with private industry on standards
that could allow the broader use of drones.
Grey areas already exist, however - particularly with the recreational use
There are no regulations governing recreational drone use. Instead the
FAA recommends - emphasis on 'recommends' - such drones be flown
away from populated areas, from aeroplanes, below a certain altitude and
And if people claim their drones are for personal use, that could
theoretically get around many FAA regulations.
Robotics is a revolutionary technology on a par with gunpowder and the
atomic bomb. It's another genie you couldn't put back in the bottle
Page 12 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
In the training missions that BAE is allowed to discuss with me, Mantis
takes off entirely independent of its crew. When airborne, it is controlled
either from a base in the UK or from a command-and-control centre so
tiny that it fits inside a packing crate, which can be flown to a combat
theatre inside a transport aircraft, with a commander and crew ready to
A satellite relays information to the Mantis, while pictures, video feeds,
infrared images and decrypted phone calls come back from the
battlefield. Six screens back on the ground offer a Mantis-eye view, a map
and a set of geometric patterns showing the Mantis's orders.
Identifying potential targets
Previous generations of surveillance craft deluge intelligence staff with so
many pictures that up to 160 back-room staff are required for each
aircraft, but Mantis decides for itself what is interesting. A single Mantis
can do the surveillance job of three or four helicopters or three Nimrod
So while the military has to follow rules of engagement regarding drone
use, there is - as yet - no similar set of rules regarding privacy for
domestic use of drones.
'If everybody had enough money to buy one of these things, we could all
be wandering around with little networks of vehicles flying over our heads
spying on us,' Ms Cummings said.
'It really opens up a whole new Pandora's Box of: What does it mean to
A walking target! the U.S. Air Force want to step up the pressure in
conflicts around the globe by employing a whole new way of tracking the
The Air Force is looking to introduce a tiny drone that surreptitiously
'paints' an individual with some kind of signal-emitting powder or liquid
that allows the military to keep tabs on him or her.
They could even use the technology to upload the person's whereabouts
to a hellfire missile.
Secret weapon: Drone with flapping wings that can hover menacingly
On Tuesday, the Air Force put out a call for proposals for such technology,
though it didn't specify exactly what kind of drone might deliver the
magic powder, or what the magic powder might be.
Page 13 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
While it's in flight, no one controls Mantis with a joystick. Details of the
mission are copied on to a memory stick and loaded into the control
system's computers by the commander. In training two Mantis operatives
can oversee up to three aircraft at once.
A video of BAE's software in action shows the aircraft targeting a line of
trucks from miles above the Australian outback, with squares appearing
over vehicles showing that they are objects of interest while Mantis flies
over to investigate. The software inside Mantis has decided that they are
moving, that they are in an area they shouldn't be and that they match its
criteria for further investigation.
Until now, the British Army has relied on American and Israeli drones, but
Mantis is home-grown technology. In just four years the Mantis family of
aircraft has gone from laptop components strapped to a second-hand
glider bought in Wolverhampton to an operational spy plane due to enter
full service in 2015.
The process has cost 124 million, and development has been spread
across a team of British companies, including Rolls-Royce and QinetiQ, and
British universities, such as Loughborough. At least two Mantis planes are
being tested in the air right now over combat zones, although BAE is not
allowed to say where. Other drone companies such as Boeing, Northrop
Grumman and Lockheed Martin are making their own autonomous versions
- but none can match demand.
There are a range of experimental technologies that could potentially
serve both purposes.
Tiny insect drones, while not yet perfected, are gaining popularity in the
From larger hummingbird drones to other tiny ornithopters to DARPA's
remote-controlled beetle, the delivery system for such a technology isn't
so far away from being a reality.
Metal heart: The remote-controlled flying beetle cyborg drone complete
with electrodes and a radio transmitter
For a terrorist, or a lone psychopath, the idea of a vehicle that could
launch, find targets and attack autonomously must seem like the ultimate
risk-free weapon - a suicide bomb without a suicide bomber
Page 14 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
First flight of the Global Hawk RQ-4
Autonomous machines save money, save pilots' lives and point to a future
where stealth-enabled unmanned fighters and ultra-long-endurance
surveillance planes can almost remove human beings from the aerial
battlefield. But this technology has largely appeared without governments
or the public questioning it. Can a chip make split-second decisions as
well as a highly trained pilot? What happens when these systems fail? And
worst of all - what happens when one falls into the wrong hands?
Unmanned aircraft have been used routinely since World War II, when the
Germans used a remotely piloted bomb drone known as the 'Fritz'. But the
market has exploded in the past ten years. There are 43 nations currently
developing their own unmanned vehicles, including China, Iran and
Russia. Some predict-that the market will hit a value of 53 billion - and
the U.S. Army already predicts that its air force will be 80 per cent
robotic by 2020.
Although drones are widely used, air forces tend to be nervous about
letting them fly under their own steam - so highly trained pilots are still
used, with a full back-up staff to ensure that nothing goes wrong.
'The way the U.S. military likes to do things, current attack drones
require up to three pilots to operate - fastjet combat pilots, who are rare
and expensive front-line assets,' says Steve Worsnip of BAE Systems. 'But
the RAF doesn't have the luxury of those sort of numbers. They simply
can't fight wars that way.'
The ground crew track a drone's flight path
'The human role isn't disappearing, but it is changing,' says PW Singer, a
former Pentagon weapons adviser and author of Wired For War: The
The mini plane: The Raven, the non-lethal, short-range surveillance drone
that has already seen life in Iraq
What most of these tiny drones lack is range, which will evenutally
improve with advances in battery life and materials science.
What's less clear is how the tracking might go down, though the Pentagon
is hard at work on a range of what they call "Clandestine Tagging,
Tracking, and Locating" (TTL) technologies.
Some ideas from the Pentagon include marking targets with biological
paints or micro-mechanical sensors, Fox News reports.
Similar proposals by outside groups are also being considered.
Monster size: The Predator drone used in Iraq and Afghanistan and most
recently deployed in Libya
Page 15 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
Robotics Revolution And Conflict In The Twenty First Century, 'Humans
are no longer making decisions in the here and now; rather, they are
In the U.S., more drone pilots are now being trained than actual pilots -
and the degree of autonomy exhibited by the aircraft has increased to the
point that new controllers don't even need to know how to fly. Many are
videogamers, more than ready for the dehumanised, computer-assisted
world of drones.
'People have an inherent fear of autonomous aircrafts, but as we face
technical and battlefield problems, the solution is more and more
autonomy,' says Singer.
'One of the problems right now is that unmanned systems such as Predator
are gathering enormous amounts of data. We're about to add "Gorgon
Stare" to Predators - an array of 12 video feeds. We can't keep up, but
give the sensors more autonomy and they will decide what they send. A
lot of the scientists told me that robotics is a revolutionary technology on
a par with gunpowder and the atomic bomb. It's another genie you
couldn't put back in the bottle.'
The BAE Mantis isn't the only unmanned aircraft that can operate
independently. Global Hawk RQ-4, made by Northrop Grumman, is a huge,
high-altitude craft that has been flying over Afghanistan for a decade, and
has no need for pilots, either in the air or on the ground. It was the first
unmanned vehicle capable of flying itself, and has completed more than
30,000 combat hours overseas. Its makers seem offended by the use of
the word 'drone' and refer to it as a 'robotic aircraft'.
Twelve years ago, a prototype of the RQ-4 Global Hawk was flying at
60,000ft above the Atlantic Ocean, near the east coast of the Azores. Its
flying altitude is almost double the ceiling of civilian aircraft, and one of
the reasons the Global Hawk is cleared to fly over civilian airspace.
Abruptly, the 'crossover' between two of the military satellites used to
guide the Hawk failed, due to human error.
Danger on land: Soldiers in the Helmand province of Afghanistan where
drones have been deployed
One proposal from a University of Florida researcher uses insect
pheromones encoded with unique identifiers that could be tracked from
Other plans employ biodegradable fluorescent 'taggants' that can be
scattered by UAVs.
A private firm in Oregon called Voxtel has already made available a
product called NightMarks, a nano-crystal that can be seen through night-
vision goggles and can be hidden in anything from glass cleaner to
DARPA is even looking into 'smart dust' - a cloud of dust that could be
sprayed into the air near a target in hopes that he or she might walk
through the cloud and be tagged, meaning the drone or delivery system
wouldn't even have to make direct contact with the target.
The Air Force notes that the technology it is fostering will be useful for
things like tracking wildlife.
A jumping robot inspired by a grasshopper can leap 27 times its body
length, according to scientists.
Swarms of the locust-like drones could one day be used to explore remote
areas of the Earth or other planets, they said.
Page 16 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
A Predator drone prepares for take-off
This was what its autonomy software had been designed for -
'contingencies' are programmed into its software so that it can respond to
unforeseen events. The Hawk turned itself around, entirely without
satellite guidance, and returned to the airbase it had flown from. Ten
minutes later, it landed at the base.
'Our first fully autonomous landing was in 1975,' says Dane Marolt,
international business development director of the RQ-4, a former pilot
who has overseen Northrop Grumman's autonomous drones programme
since it first began.
'The RQ-4 is totally autonomous. It is a mouse-click aircraft. But there is
no pilot flying this. As it stands, the U.S. Army and Navy choose not to use
it in this way - there is a pilot in command.'
Every weapons company says the same thing - that it is their computer
software that gives them the edge. The equipment inside the UAVs may
not be cutting-edge, but the software is. And this software isn't as easy to
protect, or to copyright, as a vehicle. It's also much more easily copied.
Hezbollah has already fired captured drones back at Israel from the West
Bank. There are other risks, too - last year, insurgents hacked into the
video feeds of Predator drones flying over Iraq.
The website DIY Drones is a thriving community of do-it-yourself drone
builders and operators, building drones that look eerily similar to - or are
copies of - the weapons employed currently by the West. For a terrorist,
or a lone psychopath, the idea of a vehicle that could launch, find targets
The device, which looks like the workings of a watch perched on two long
feet, weighs just seven grams. However, it can jump 1.4 metres - 10
times further for its size and weight than any other robot.
This jumping robot was inspired by the mechanics of a grasshopper
Animals such as fleas, locusts, grasshoppers and frogs use elastic storage
mechanisms that slowly charge up jumping energy in their limbs and then
quickly release it.
The system allows these creatures to achieve very powerful jumps and
The jumping robot employs the same principle, charging two torsion
springs by means of a small motor and a cam.
To optimise performance, the legs can be adjusted for jumping force and
take-off angle. A tiny on-board battery allows the robot to make up to 320
jumps separated by three second intervals.
Similar jumpers could be fitted with tiny sensors to explore rough,
or to help in search and rescue operations, say the scientists.
Professor Dario Floreano, who led the team from the Laboratory of
Intelligent Systems at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in
Switzerland, said: "This biomimetic form of jumping is unique because it
Page 17 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
and attack autonomously must seem like the ultimate risk-free weapon - a
suicide bomb without a suicide bomber.
Tribesmen gather at the site of a missile attack by a U.S. drone in
Pakistan, which killed up to six people in 2008
Autonomy is far more ubiquitous than people think, but it brings with it
problems and dangers. The AEGIS shipboard computer used on board
American destroyers controls their anti-missile systems. It works so
quickly that operators simply tell it whether to shoot fighters or bombers
first when the ship comes under attack - the ship then acquires targets
and shoots on its own. It was an AEGIS system that had been left in attack
mode that shot down an Iranian airliner in 1988. The system had
mistakenly identified it as an enemy fighter.
But while mistakes of that magnitude are rare, a report, The Year Of The
Drone, by the New America Foundation, an American non-profit think
tank, has analysed drone strikes against militants in Pakistan and has
found that the level of civilian casualties was such that it undermined any
claims of drones being 'precision' weapons. The use of weaponised drones
might have reduced the number of captured pilots - but their capacity to
strike precisely is questionable.
'Our research shows that some two-thirds of those killed in the strikes
since 2004 have been described as militants, implying a civilian casualty
rate of about one-third,' says the foundation's Katherine Tiedemann.
Philip Alston, the UN's Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial Executions,
alleges that the use of drones over states such as Pakistan, with which the
US has not declared war, 'might violate international humanitarian law
and international human rights law'.
allows micro-robots to travel over many types of rough terrain where no
other walking or wheeled robot could go.
"These tiny jumping robots could be fitted with solar cells to recharge
between jumps and deployed in swarms for extended exploration of
remote areas on Earth or on other planets."
The research was presented today at the IEEE International Conference on
Robotics and Automation in Pasadena, California.
Hoping to keep unmanned spy aircraft in the air for a longer period of
time, U.S. scientists are reportedly toying with the idea of using nukes.
Plans for such a fleet of drones were drawn up by Sandia National
Laboratories, America's top agency for nuclear development, but have not
yet reached the building or testing phase, according to The Guardian.
A Sandia rep told the paper: 'The research on this topic was highly
theoretical and very conceptual.
Boost: Hoping to keep unmanned spy aircraft, like the one seen here, in
the air for a longer period of time, the U.S. may be toying with the idea of
'The work only resulted in a preliminary feasibility study and no hardware
was ever built or tested. The project has ended'.
Is the U.S. preparing to send NUCLEAR
drones to patrol the skies?
Page 18 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
President Obama's State Department legal adviser Harold Koh replied to
Alston's allegations saying, 'Our procedures and practices for identifying
lawful targets are extremely robust, and advanced technologies have
helped to make our targeting even more precise.'
Earlier this month, a drone strike on Boya village, in Pakistan's North
Waziristan, killed between three and five Al-Qaeda militants, according to
reports, but also up to 13 civilians. Human Rights Watch is trying to open
debate on the use of the weapons in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The
statistics in The Year Of The Drone allege that more than 400 civilians
have been killed by drones in Pakistan in just one year - and its authors
allege that the U.S. government is not open about the casualties.
'The closest a government official has come to publicly recognising the
civilian casualties is an anonymous quote suggesting that only 20 civilians
have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan in the last two years,' says
Tiedemann. But still the drive among the West's armies is to allow not
more control over UAVs, but less.
Boeing, like BAE, is already developing unmanned aircraft that will go well
beyond its current roles of surveillance and attacking ground troops.
Boeing and BAE's unmanned planes look and operate like stealth bombers
- a role in which communication with the outside world is likely to give
away a plane's decision.
Using nuclear power would reportedly provide enough juice to keep
drones in the air for months instead of just days.
While it may sound like an exciting technological advance, not everyone is
thrilled by the idea.
Chris Coles of Drone Wars UK, which crusades against the development of
drones for both the government and civilians, told The Guardian: 'It's a
pretty terrifying prospect'.
Coles said unmanned aerial vehicles are much more dangerous than crafts
with a human being onboard, and going nuclear could have disastrous
Advance: Using nuclear power may provide enough energy to keep drones
in the air for months instead of just days
He said: 'Drones are much less safe than other aircraft and tend to crash a
lot. There is a major push by this industry to increase the use of drones
and both the public and government are struggling to keep up with the
The most high-profile loss of a U.S. drone was the top secret RQ-170
Sentinel, which went down over Iran last year.
Iran claims it shot down the drone, known as 'The Beast of Kandahar,'
while U.S. forces said there was 'absolutely no indication' that it was
grounded by any hostile force.
The plane was reportedly on a covert mission for the CIA when it was
Page 19 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
At BAE the black, triangular shape of Tanaris looks instantly familiar - it's
almost identical to the American B-2 stealth bomber. It's a UAV designed
for a different kind of warfare - not against tribesmen armed with AK-47s
but against modern nations equipped with radar, satellites and electronic
counter-measures. To maintain full stealth cover, it is capable of severing
communications with its handlers and travelling without radio contact for
up to 36 hours.
Tanaris is a so-called 'black project' - it's introduced as a model in a room
at BAE's headquarters in Preston, and the three senior managers who
introduce it are deliberately vague about where Tanaris might be used,
what weapons it might carry, or any context in which it might be
deployed. Tanaris will take its first flights next year and is a 'test-bed' for
future technologies. Some of the technologies inside Tanaris will be used
in MoD vehicles until 2025.
'One of the critical ways UAVs will improve is by staying up in the air
longer - current models can only remain airborne for around 80 hours,'
says the University of Reading's Kevin Warwick.
'The American military research organisation Darpa has put out a contract
called Vulture looking for a solar-powered UAV that can remain airborne
for five years. On the more micro scale, UAVs will have a role flying in and
out of buildings. They'll also continue to become more autonomous.
"Drone" makes it sound quite friendly and politically digestible. These
aren't drones. They're hunter-killers. Other systems in development might
work as "swarms", communicating with one another to carry out the
'That's the worry - they make the decisions. What are these decisions? If
it's against the enemy, it's fine - but what happens if it decides that I'm
Captured: The RQ-170 Sentinel, a top secret U.S. reconnaissance drone,
crashed in Iran last year and was put on display by Iranian forces
The Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform can also hijack mobile
Drone only cost $6,200 to make
A home-made drone capable of launching airborne cyber attacks and
hijacking mobile phone calls has been developed by two computer
The Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform - or Wasp - was constructed
from a former U.S. Army target drone.
Richard Perkins and Mike Tassey customised the aircraft so it can find and
track internet hotspots and mobile phones.
Scroll down for video
DIY hacker drone: Home-made surveillance craft can launch airborne cyber attacks
Page 20 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
Sharp-eyed dog walkers along the San Francisco Bay waterfront may have
spotted a strange-looking plane zipping overhead recently that that
looked strikingly like the U.S. stealth drone captured by Iran in December.
A few key differences: The flying wing seen over Berkeley is a fraction of
the size of the CIA's waylaid aircraft. And it's made of plastic foam. But in
some ways it's just like a real spy plane.
The 4 1/2-foot-wide aircraft, built by software engineers Mark Harrison
and Andreas Oesterer in their spare time, can fly itself to specified GPS
coordinates and altitudes without any help from a pilot on the ground.
A tiny video camera mounted on the front can send a live video feed to a
set of goggles for the drone's view of the world below.
Scroll down for video of a flight
Airborne cyber master: The Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform - or
Wasp - was constructed from a former U.S. Army target drone. Inventor
Richard Perkins introduces the craft at the DefCon hacking conference in
Las Vegas at the weekend
Attack of the drones: The amateur
enthusiasts crowding the sky with
miniature stealth planes like the CIA's
Page 21 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
Taking the skies: Mark Harrison, left, pilots an Arcti Copter 5 drone as
Andreas Oesterer, right, watches. Recreational drone planes are a
becoming a growing subculture as the skies become more friendly toward
'It's just like flying without all the trouble of having to be up in the air,'
Thousands of hobbyists are taking part in what has become a global do-it-
yourself drone subculture, a pastime that's thriving as the Federal
Aviation Administration seeks to make the skies friendlier to unmanned
aircraft of all sizes.
The use of drones in the U.S. by law enforcement and other government
agencies has privacy advocates on edge.
At the same time, some DIY drone flyers believe the ease of sending
cheap pilotless planes and choppers airborne gives citizens a powerful
tool for keeping public servants on the ground honest.
Mr Perkins and co-designer Mike Tassey customised the aircraft so it can
find and track internet hotspots and mobile phones
It can identify unsecured online gateways and then exploit these to
launch cyber attacks on computer systems.
The craft can also capture GMS mobile PIN numbers that can then be used
to pay for outgoing calls, allow hackers to eavesdrop on conversations and
even impersonate mobile phone towers.
Mr Perkins said: 'It will fly a plotted course and return to base. We loaded
it up with the ability to attack wi-fi, Bluetooth, and GSM cellular
The two men exhibited the bright yellow Wasp, which weighs just 14lbs,
at the DefCon hacking conference in Las Vegas at the weekend.
They built it for a total of just $6,200 and claim their inspiration was to
force the computer industry into realising that anybody has access to the
materials to make such a hi-tech device.
Page 22 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
Spy plane: An Arcti Copter 5 drone seen flying in California, is a fraction
of the size of any of the CIA's waylaid aircraft but in some ways it's just
like a real spy plane, especially if a camera is attached
Thousands of hobbyists are taking part in what has become a global do-it-
yourself drone subculture, a pastime that's thriving as the Federal
Aviation Administration seeks to make the skies friendlier to unmanned
aircraft of all sizes.
Just as Humvees became a presence on U.S. highways in the 1990s after
the first war with Iraq, interest in non-military uses of drones from
policing to farming is rising.
Government agencies currently need FAA permission on a case-by-case
basis to fly drones domestically. Commercial use is banned except for a
small number of waivers for companies building experimental aircraft.
But lawmakers have instructed the agency to allow civilian use of drones
in U.S. airspace by September 2015. The FAA is expected to take the first
step this year by proposing rules that would permit limited use of small
Infiltrating internet hotspots: The Wasp was built for just $6,200 and
weighs just 14lbs
Page 23 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
Laws: Ritewing Zephyr II flies with a GoPro camera mounted on it.
Lawmakers have instructed the FAA to allow civilian use of drones in U.S.
airspace by September 2015, with new laws expected this year permitting
small commercial drones
Whether a border patrol drone the size of a single-engine passenger plane
or a four-rotor police 'quadcopter' equipped with gear to intercept cell
phone signals, the increasing ease of aerial surveillance seems destined to
be put to a constitutional test over privacy.
'Our concern is with all of the drones,' said Jennifer Lynch, a staff
attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Small aircraft are hard to see, and large drones can fly high enough to stay
out of sight, she said. 'I think they all pose different levels of privacy risk.'
Lynch has sued the FAA for a list of the 300 waivers it has issued to allow
drone use in the U.S. At the same time, she said drones in the hands of
average citizens could have important uses.
Top attraction: Mr Perkins (left) and Mr Tassey tinker with their creation
at the conference
The implications and potential uses for Wasp are quite extraordinary.
It could find mobile phones in disaster areas and lead rescuers to
survivors, or it could fly over a disaster zone to act as a mobile phone
tower enabling calls.
However, if it were to fall into the wrong hands, Wasp could quite easily
infiltrate a company's computer networks via unsecured wi-fi networks.
And that's just for starters.
Page 24 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
Testing: The increasing ease of aerial surveillance seems destined to be
put to a constitutional test over privacy, especially with the public's
interest in the hobby
Among the groups seeking to take advantage of the steep drop in price of
drone technology are journalists who want to attach cameras to aircraft
the size of small pizzas and that cost as much to buy - about $400 - as a
one-hour helicopter rental for a photographer.
In the San Francisco Bay area, Occupy Wall Street activists built the so-
called Occucopter designed to monitor police action against protesters
from the sky.
In Idaho, wildlife biologists started using a drone for counting fish nets
after a helicopter crash killed two colleagues and a pilot.
And researchers are developing techniques to use drones equipped with
infrared sensors to detect patches of dry ground in orchards.
Mr Perkins said: 'I can take the various pieces of your digital life -
Bluetooth headset, mobile phone, wi-fi - and find the least secure place
you exist and attack you there.'
Even more worryingly, Wasp could carry a small payload, opening up the
potential for smugglers to use it or to serve as a targeted biological or
nuclear weapon in a terror attack.
Unsurprisingly, authorities in the U.S. will not allow the drone to fly over
The kinds of drones making the headlines daily are the heavily armed CIA
and U.S. Army vehicles which routinely strike targets in Pakistan - killing
terrorists and innocents alike.
But the real high-tech story of surveillance drones is going on at a much
smaller level, as tiny remote controlled vehicles based on insects are
already likely being deployed.
Over recent years a range of miniature drones, or micro air vehicles
(MAVs), based on the same physics used by flying insects, have been
presented to the public.
The fear kicked off in 2007 when reports of bizarre flying objects
hovering above anti-war protests sparked accusations that the U.S.
government was accused of secretly developing robotic insect spies.
Page 25 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
Price: The prices to build these drones has also dipped considerably as
much of the technology can be found in smartphones, with the same chips
used to determine location and movement being the same drones use
Hobbyists say drone prices have been driven down sharply even in the
past two or three years mainly by the surge in popularity of smartphones.
The chips smartphones use to determine whether they're being held
vertically or horizontally or to locate themselves on a map are the same
ones drones use to keep themselves flying straight, level and in the right
The supply of such chips has spiked along with the use of smartphones,
sending prices lower.
'Today if you have an iPhone or an Android, you basically have an
autopilot in your pocket. You're just running the wrong app,' said Chris
Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine and founder of DIY Drones,
an online community and company that sells drone kits and parts.
Researchers have now developed bio-inspired drones with bug eyes, bat
ears, bird wings, and even honeybee-like hairs to sense biological,
chemical and nuclear weapons
Official denials and suggestions from entomologists that they were
actually dragonflies failed to quell speculation, and Tom Ehrhard, a
retired Air Force colonel and expert on unmanned aerial craft, told the
Daily Telegraph at the time that 'America can be pretty sneaky.'
The following year, the US Air Force unveiled insect-sized spies 'as tiny as
bumblebees' that could not be detected and would be able to fly into
buildings to 'photograph, record, and even attack insurgents and
Around the same time the Air Force also unveiled what it called 'lethal
mini-drones' based on Leonardo da Vinci's blueprints for his Ornithopter
flying machine, and claimed they would be ready for roll out by 2015.
That announcement was five years ago and, since the U.S. military is
usually pretty cagey about its technological capabilities, it raises the
question as to what it is keeping under wraps.
The University of Pennsylvania GRASP Lab recently showed off drones that
swarm, a network of 20 nano quadrotors flying in synchronized
The SWARMS goal is to combine swarm technology with bio-inspired
drones to operate 'with little or no direct human supervision' in 'dynamic,
resource-constrained, adversarial environments.'
However, it is most likely the future of hard-to-detect drone surveillance
will mimic nature.
Research suggests that the mechanics of insects can be reverse-
engineered to design midget machines to scout battlefields and search for
victims trapped in rubble.
Scientists have taken their inspiration from animals which have evolved
over millennia to the perfect conditions for flight.
Nano-biomimicry MAV design has long been studied by DARPA, and in 2008
the U.S. government's military research agency conducted a symposium
discussing 'bugs, bots, borgs and bio-weapons.'
'Today if you have an iPhone or an Android, you basically have an
autopilot in your pocket. You're just running the wrong app.'
- founder of DIY Drones
Page 26 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
Anderson started DIY Drones in 2007 after spending the weekend building
an electronic Lego robot and trying to fly a radio-controlled plane with his
The robot didn't impress the kids on its own, and the plane was hard to
fly, Anderson said. So the family used the Legos to build a primitive
autopilot and attached it to the plane. The kids thought it was cool for a
few weeks, but Anderson became obsessed.
Rules: Current rules restrict their altitude to 400 feet, requiring them to
always be in view of their controller on the ground and prohibiting them
from being flown over built-up areas
Anderson said safety is a top consideration of his group, and he supports
strict observance of the FAA regulations developed in the 1970s to cover
the amateur use of radio-controlled planes, which also apply to today's
Those rules include restricting their altitude to 400 feet, requiring them
to always be in view of their controller on the ground and prohibiting
them from being flown over built-up areas.
That last rule reportedly led to trouble for some Los Angeles real estate
agents, who were warned by police to stop using drones to take photos
and video of homes for sale, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Researchers have now developed bio-inspired drones with bug eyes, bat
ears, bird wings, and even honeybee-like hairs to sense biological,
chemical and nuclear weapons.
And the U.S. isn't the only country to have poured money into spy drone
miniaturisation. France has developed flapping wing bio-inspired
The Netherlands BioMAV (Biologically Inspired A.I. for Micro Aerial
Vehicles) developed a Parrot AR Drone last year - which is now available
in the U.S. as a 'flying video game'.
Not so tiny but a good spy: A ShadowHawk drone with SWAT team
Zoologist Richard Bomphrey, of Oxford University, has conducted research
to generate new insight into how insect wings have evolved over the last
350 million years.
He said last year: 'Nature has solved the problem of how to design
miniature flying machines.
'By learning those lessons, our findings will make it possible to
aerodynamically engineer a new breed of surveillance vehicles that,
because they are as small as insects and also fly like them, completely
blend into their surroundings.'
Page 27 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
In Berkeley, Harrison and Oesterer spent more time tweaking wires and
software than their drones spent in the air. Part of the reason was battery
power: Their drones rely on the latest in lightweight laptop batteries to
stay aloft but suck significantly more power. Still, both say would-be
pilots don't need degrees in computer science or electrical engineering to
send drones skyward.
Said Oesterer: 'It's getting really close to plug-and-fly.'
It fits in the palm of your hand, weighs the same as a bag of sweets and
could become a potent new weapon in our fight against the Taliban.
Military chiefs believe a 20,000 spy drone called the SQ-4 Recon, one of
the smallest unmanned aerial vehicles in the world, will save soldiers
lives in Afghanistan.
It is a miniature version of Little Nellie the autogyro flown by James
Bond in the film You Only Live Twice.
The nanodrone contains two cameras which allow soldiers to look over
hills and inside enemy bunkers without the risk of being killed or injured.
It can be operated remotely by troops sitting in a control room thousands
of miles away or by soldiers on patrol using a seven-inch tablet computer.
Weighing just seven ounces and with a nine-inch diameter, the nanodrone
can fly and hover for 30 minutes or switch off its engines and perch like a
The insect manoeuvrability which allows flies the ability to land precisely
and fly off again at speed may one day prove a crucial tactical advantage
in wars and could even save lives in disasters.
The military would like to develop tiny robots that can fly inside caves
and barricaded rooms to send back real-time intelligence about the
people and weapons inside.
Dr Bomphrey said: 'Scary spider robots were featured in Michael
Crichton's 1980s film Runaway - but our robots will be much more scaled
down and look more like the quidditch ball in the Harry Potter films,
because of its ability to hover and flutter.
'The problem for scientists at the moment is that aircrafts can't hover and
helicopters can't go fast. And it is impossible to make them very small.
'With insects you get a combination of both these assets in miniature. And
when you consider we have been flying for just over a hundred years as
opposed to 350 million years, I would say it is they who have got it right,
and not us!'
Chinese researchers have created a 'quadcopter' - a four-rotor helicopter
- that can be controlled by thought alone.
The researchers aim to give people with impaired motor abilities a new
avenue for interaction - for instance, using the helicopter to take a close-
up look at objects which are out of reach.
The team even suggests the helicopters could be used for fun aerial
battles in the sky, creating a fun interactive game for both disabled and
non-disabled people alike.
Scroll down for video:
Page 28 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
bird on the ledge of a building, and, without being spotted, zoom in on
suspicious activities for up to eight hours.
Its cameras can transmit live images or take still photos or video footage
using day or night vision.
Little Nellie: The new nanodrone is like a miniature version of the
autogyro 'Little Nellie', seen being used here by Wing Commander Ken
Wallis, which was used in the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice
A participant is able to fly the rotor by just brain-power alone - deciding
to check out flowers in the area around him
Onboard cameras can beam images straight back down to any Windows
PC, enabling users to have another pair of eyes
Page 29 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
Announcement: Phillip Hammond, Defence Secretary, admitted back in
February that the introduction of the nanodrone was being planned
This means soldiers can carry out reconnaissance missions without putting
themselves at risk of walking into an ambush or stepping on a buried
Devised by Cardiff-based BCB International and Middlesex Universitys
Autonomous Systems Laboratory, the SQ-4 Recon is being examined by
the US military.
The Ministry of Defence is also aware of the nanodrones potential.
Andrew Howell, managing director of BCB International, said: This gives
the modern war fighter the ability to carry out reconnaissance tasks
without putting themselves in harms way.
'The video footage could give information on where the enemy is located,
what they look like, how they are dressed and what weapons they have.
Should things take a turn for the worse, no operators can be captured or
killed. It also allows for more service personnel to be released for
As shown in the video, the helicopter can beam footage straight back to a
The system uses an off-the-shelf 'electroencephalography' (EEG) headset,
by a company called Amotive, which can interpret brain activity.
The Emotiv headset retails for $299 and can simply be plugged into any
recent Windows machine to begin working, with apps and games -
including Angry Birds - being adapted by enthusiasts to run with simple
Currently, the headset uses Bluetooth to connect to a laptop, which then
trasmits the instructions onwards to the helicopter.
The 190 ($299) Emotive headset, which is available to buy online
Page 30 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
The current drones deployed in Afghanistan are so large they have to be
launched like conventional fixed-wing aircraft and make easy targets for
In February, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond admitted that new nano-
unmanned aerial systems... are planned for introduction.
The U.S. military is seeking contractors to build it miniature 'suicide
drones' that can be flown into targets up to six miles away.
The little planes, which could look like the remote-controlled aircraft
used in a more domestic setting, could be used for kamikaze-style attacks
on vehicles or buildings - even individuals if necessary.
The Army wants the weapons, known as the 'Lethal Miniature Aerial
Munition System' (LMAMS) into war by 2016, and describe the weapon as a
'portable, covert weapon with strike capability against stationary or
moving individuals, with a very low risk of collateral damage'.
The 'plane' will consist of a drone, warhead and launching device with a
maximum weight of less than five pounds.
Like this, but smaller: The Armys existing Raven drone is on the small
side - but the military is seeking a smaller version by 2016
However, over time, the technology is likely to shrink and become simpler
to use, as well as find more uses.
The team, from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China,may still need to
consider how to phrase the controls, however, as New Scientist reports
that a user can move the flyer forward by thinking 'right', fly up by
thinking 'push', and turn clockwise by thinking 'left'.
Thinking 'left hard' tells the quadcopter to take off from the ground.
Clenched teeth and blinking both produce a brain signal that the EEG can
read, which can tell the helicopter to take a picture or even stream video
back to a laptop.
Users can capture a still by blinking four times.
The trials used a quadcopter drone which in extremely easy to operate.
One suggestion is the helicopters could be used for sport, for instance
allowing physically-able and disabled people to compete against each
other with helicopters fighting in an air-ring, akin to wrestling.
New Scientist suggest the helicopters could push, dodge and and force
each other out of the ring.
A sinister airborne surveillance camera gives the U.S. military the ability to track
movements in an entire city like a real-time Google Street View.
The ARGUS-IS array can be mounted on unmanned drones to capture an area of
15 sq/miles in an incredible 1,800MP - that's 225 times more sensitive than an
Page 31 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
The aim is to fit the entire plane in a backpack, and be able to fly it two
minutes after a target is agreed on. At that point, the plane must be able
to fly for 15 to 30 minutes across up to six miles of territory.
According to Wired, size is not the main issue, as long as the craft is light
enough for easy transport by foot.
Once deployed, the craft could be controlled by a human, or by GPS.
The proposal document says that: 'Once a target is selected by the
operator in the terminal phase of an engagement no further operator
input shall be required'.
One last requirements shows the need to reduce collateral damage: with
the army stating the drone must have an 'extremely low probability' of
killing someone 10 meters from the bomb's impact.
Drones have so far been used in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan
From 17,500ft the remarkable surveillance system can capture objects as small as
6in on the ground and allows commanders to track movements across an entire
battlefield in real time.
Beat that, Google: An image taken from 17,500ft by the U.S. military's ARGUS-IS
array, which can capture 1,800MP zoomable video feeds of an entire medium-
sized city in real time
'It is important for the public to know that some of these capabilities exist,' said
Yiannis Antoniades, the BAE engineer who designed the system, in a recent PBS
The aerospace and weapons company developed the ARGUS-IS array as part of a
$18.5million project funded by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency (Darpa). In Greek mythology, Argus Panoptes, guardian of the
heifer-nymph Io and son of Arestor, was a primordial giant whose epithet,
'Panoptes', 'all-seeing', led to his being described with multiple, often one
Like the Titan of myth, the Pentagon's ARGUS-IS (a backronym standing for
Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance-Imaging System) works
by stringing together an array of 368 digital camera imaging chips.
Page 32 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
Another take on the drone: The army is also exploring the Switchblade -
a small remote drone fired from a tube. Wired points out that the Army
already has researchers looking at three different ways of miniaturizing
drones. The first is to build tiny explosives, which can fit on already
existing miniature spy drones.
The second is to take existing drones and scale down the technology, as
happens in other industries such as the computing world. Lastly, the army
is looking at 'mashing-up' existing drone and missile technology, creating a
hybrid which is effectively a guided missile.
It is named after the Celtic god of thunder, can fly faster than the speed of sound
and evades enemy radar with its single-wing stealth design. This is Taranis,
Britains latest pilotless combat aircraft, which is even capable of selecting its own
An airborne processor combines the video from these chips to create a single
ultra-high definition mosaic video image which updates at up to 15 frames a
All-seeing: This graphic illustrates how the U.S. military's ARGUS-IS array links
together images streamed from hundreds of digital camera sensors to watch over
a huge expanse of terrain in real time
Page 33 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
targets. The revolutionary superdrone is due to make its maiden flight in the next
few weeks and could spearhead the fight against terrorism in Africa.
Revolutionary: Taranis, Britain's latest pilotless combat aircraft, will make is
maiden flight in the next few weeks.
Military chiefs believe Taraniss ground-breaking technology will allow a
powerful new generation of drones equipped with deadly payloads to fly from
British bases to attack targets worldwide. But the new developments in pilotless
aircraft are controversial as they allow the possibility of autonomous computers
targeting and killing enemy combatants outside human control. Experts even
warned last night that the new technology raised the nightmare spectre of out-of-
control robots waging war on humans and called for a global ban on
autonomous technology. Britains armed drones are currently piloted remotely by
aircrews on the ground. But Taranis will follow a set flightpath using on-board
computers to perform manoeuvres, avoid threats and identify targets. Only when
it needs to attack a target will it seek authorisation from a human controller.
Professor Noel Sharkey, a robotics engineer specialising in autonomous military
systems at Sheffield University, said last night: This is a very dangerous move.
Once it has been developed, who knows what new governments who inherit the
technology will do with it.
What it looks like: The ARGUS-IS (a backronym standing for Autonomous Real-
time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance-Imaging System) strings together an array
of 368 digital camera imaging chips into a single unit
That tremendous level of detail makes it sensitive enough to not only track people
moving around on the ground thousands of feet below, but even to see what they
are doing or carrying.
The ARGUS array sends its live feed to the ground where it connects to a touch-
screen command room interface.
Using this, operators can zoom in to any area within the camera's field of view,
with up to 65 zoom windows open at once.
Each video window is electronically steerable independent of the others, and can
either provide continuous imagery of a fixed area on the ground or be designated
to automatically keep a specified target in the window.
Sinister: The system tracks all moving objects in its field of view, highlighting
them with coloured boxes, allowing operators to track movements across an area
as and when they happen
The system automatically tracks any moving object it can see, including both
vehicles and individuals on foot, highlighting them with coloured boxes so they
can be easily identified.
Page 34 of 48People and Places: Domestic use of drones make privacy advocates anxious
Last week, Prime Minister David Cameron warned that the fight against
terrorism in North Africa could last decades, meaning futuristic drones could
dominate counter-terrorism strategy in the region.
Military technology: A US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone takes off from
Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan. A proliferation in mainly US military
technology has sparked a drone arms race
The controversy surrounding their use was highlighted last week when the United
Nations launched an investigation into the deaths caused by conventional drone
British Forces currently operate armed drones only in Afghanistan, where they
target Taliban insurgents. However, a proliferation in mainly US military
technology has sparked a drone arms race. To compete, the UK Governme