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FAA Grants Arlington Texas Police Department Permission To Fly UAVs

Unknown Lamer posted 1 year,27 days | from the coming-for-timothy dept.

Crime 158

cylonlover writes with news that another police department has received authorization to start using drones for tasks like "...photographing crime scenes and searching for missing people." From the article: "The police department in Arlington can now use new tools in support of public safety over the Texas urban community — two small helicopter Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. The FAA has granted permission for the Arlington police to fly these unmanned aircraft under certain circumstances: they must fly under 400 feet, only in the daytime, be in sight of the operator and a safety observer, and be in contact with the control tower at the nearby Dallas-Fort Worth airport — one of the busiest in the country." They're using a Leptron Avenger, which "has been designed with military grade features" but don't worry, "police are quick to emphasize that the 4- to 5-foot-long aircraft aren’t the same as military drones."

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158 comments

Ever since that time... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223087)

Ever since you deposited a few loads of your thick, smelly cum into my rectum, I've been shooting farts out of my very own asshole one after another. What say you?

Traffic enforcement (1)

areusche (1297613) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223091)

Just another way for the police department to pick the low hanging traffic enforcement fruit. Too bad the sequester didn't knock "public safety's" budget more heavily.

Re:Traffic enforcement (2, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223329)

"police are quick to emphasize that the 4- to 5-foot-long aircraft aren’t the same as military drones."

Yet.

Re:Traffic enforcement (0)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,27 days | (#43225197)

But they painted the noses orange, that clearly proves it's not a military drone! What could go wrong?

They won't hit the police budgets (3, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223397)

Because the police are the modern rendition of the standing army our founding fathers feared would oppress us. They'll cut the military in a heart beat because it's not useful to them; the Posse Comitatus Act prohibits them from using it in any "interesting" capacity on us. Amending the PCA would also cause a furor among the public and the military. All of that sort of beside the point because many cops today have the same weapons, training and equipment as infantrymen.

Ironically, law enforcement, unlike military service, is precisely the sort of government function that needs to be heavily privatized. It used to be mostly private anyway. When your county hired a sheriff, they were literally just an armed citizen who carried a gun and badge that let the world know "I do full time, what any citizen can do when faced with a crime." Like a private citizen doing risky work, they had to be bonded and insured. Broke in the wrong house and did $10k of damage? Didn't come out of the treasury; it came out of your privately funded insurance and/or bond money.

Our system is broken today because we moved away from the principle of least privilege. That used to be the operating assumption of law enforcement (if I don't know the law, I don't enforce it because getting it wrong means I'm a criminal). We went from a law enforcement system where each officer was a mostly unprivileged user to being damn near like root.

Re:They won't hit the police budgets (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223607)

Yeah, and privatized law enforcement worked out great. Remember the pinkertons? There's a word for privatizing law enforcement, that's fascism.

Re:They won't hit the police budgets (2)

ByOhTek (1181381) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223779)

Additionally, to you rpoint, isn't TSA semi-private (gov't instructed, privately run?)

Yep. They are so much better than the fully public institutions.

The pinkertons are a bad example (2, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224373)

The pinkertons got away with what they did to the unions because many local governments were bought and paid for by monied interests. This is really not any worse than today where cops routinely get away with stuff that is actually worse than what the pinkertons were permitted to do. A pinkerton who broke into the wrong house and shot up a family could be lawfully shot dead by the head of household. Today, you do that to a cop with a warrant based on a false statement and you're going to get it so far up the ass from the local DA that you'd think Vlad Dracula made an appearance in town. Not only is the law not even theoretically on your side today, but the government circles its wagons to protect its people and interests in a way that makes justice night impossible.

There's a word for privatizing law enforcement, that's fascism.

There's a word for people who think Fascism is a catch-all dirty word: morons. No Fascist state in history has ever moved toward privatized law enforcement where the government police and general public have the same arrest powers and liability for "getting it wrong" (enforcing non-existent laws, arresting when no formal arrest power is recognized under law, using excessive force, raiding the wrong house, etc.). Privatizing and leveling the playing field is actually a bulwark against Fascism. When a concealed carry permit holder can arrest a cop "going Rodney King" on someone and drag his sorry ass to the sheriff, that's not Fascism. That's what liberty and equality before the law looks like.

(And when several private citizens can get into a shoot out with said cop's colleagues who attempt to stop that lawful arrest, shoot most of the responding officers dead and be exonerated before the court, that's even more of an example of liberty and equality before the law).

re: privatized law enforcement (1)

King_TJ (85913) | 1 year,27 days | (#43225101)

No... you're correct. Privatized law enforcement won't work in our current system, but that's really only because the rest of the legal infrastructure is governmental in nature.

EG. The judges and court system are NOT privatized, nor are the prisons, so you'd only be privatizing one component of a greater whole. Such a combo (as we're already witnessing with such projects as the red light and speed cameras, where a private company gets a cut of as much as 50% of the revenue of each ticket issued) just encourages more corruption. In these "partnerships", it's all too easy for each party to shirk their responsibilities by pointing fingers at the other party involved. Plus, with private industry essentially sapping part of the revenue stream of the operation that used to go completely to the govt. system, there's increased pressure to collect MORE revenue so both parties are satisfied with the outcome.

I'm not sure I agree that a fully privatized law enforcement system would automatically equate to fascism? I can see how it *might*, but there are a lot of "what if's" in such a proposal.

I think the key is understanding that law has to ultimately get handled at the governmental level, if one is advocating having a centralized body of government at all. (Proponents of agorism or anarchy would obviously have visions of alternate ways to run things.) Really, the only difference between a private business handling an aspect of the job of law enforcement and govt. handling it is the fact that private businesses have a primary focus or goal on profit-making. But as long as govt. retains control of actually making the laws and verifying they're enforced fairly/justly, it shouldn't matter if it's accomplished by "outsourcing" it to private contractors or doing it with govt. employees.

Right now, I'd argue that govt. often has a primary focus of money-making anyway, because we've built up such an expensive and elaborate system - they can't sustain it otherwise.

Re:They won't hit the police budgets (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223999)

uhm bro, the defense bill signed this year upended Posse Comitaus. Military can now operate in civilian law enforcement when asked.

Re:They won't hit the police budgets (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224137)

You make a lot of interesting points, but you have to admit that any private law enforcement that was created today would be created in such a way that it would be worse than any existed public law enforcement.

And You example of insurance/bonded is wrong IMHO.
"Didn't come out of the treasury; it came out of your privately funded insurance and/or bond money." Except that it did come out of the treasury, because his pay has to cover his insurance costs, and those costs included operation expenses, money to promote their services in the form of ads and the like, and profit for CEOs.

Fire the police department (1)

Firethorn (177587) | 1 year,27 days | (#43225243)

Except that it did come out of the treasury, because his pay has to cover his insurance costs, and those costs included operation expenses, money to promote their services in the form of ads and the like, and profit for CEOs.

The difference is that with a private police/law enforcement organization is that if the company screws up too badly:
1. The government organization that hired them are at least somewhat shielded from the total liability.
2. The company itself will go bankrupt (no profits for the corrupt/incompetent owners)
3. Another company will replace the bad one; absorbing only the 'worthy' assets of the old company(preferably, I know this stuff is often messed up).
4. It's much easier to 'fire' the entire police department if they're screwing up too badly.

Despite saying all this, on average I still support public police departments(IE government run).

Oh A-Town (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223109)

Doesn't really surprise me in this particular city. They'll probably use it for aerial views of the Cowboys losing. :(

Re:Oh A-Town (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223273)

Remember, you aren't just a taxpayer, resident or citizen of Texas, you're also an inmate!

Same is true in South Carolina (1)

Dareth (47614) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223461)

Same is true in South Carolina, only you are less valuable than the many pigs and other livestock raised in the state.

Re:Same is true in South Carolina (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223797)

I think that post is in response to a signature seen around here somewhere. Something about not just being a resident or taxpayer of Texas, but also a citizen.

Re:Oh A-Town (1)

cod3r_ (2031620) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223769)

bro.. i don't dig your style there.. COWBOYS going to the superbowl this year. Mark my words down.

Re:Oh A-Town (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43224225)

bro.. i don't dig your style there.. COWBOYS going to the superbowl this year. Mark my words down.

Technically, this year's Superbowl is over.
This (upcoming) season's Superbowl would be correct, but it's definitely NEXT year's Superbowl.
And no, the Cowboys won't be in it. ;-)

Re:Oh A-Town (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43224327)

This (upcoming) season's Superbowl would be correct, but it's definitely NEXT year's Superbowl.
And no, the Cowboys won't be in it. ;-)

If they could somehow manage to get a QB and an offensive line, they might.

Not holding my breath, though.

Re:Oh A-Town (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43225343)

Seriously with the QB shit, im not a lover or a hater, but do you have any recognition of what it was that came before Romo, Quincy, Bledso, Leaf, Testiverde, Hutchinson. I'm sure the bills jets chiefs dolphins raiders browns vikings or lions would all love to have him.

Yes he has been extremely frustrating at times, but all in all, less then the offensive line, safeties, play calling and ownership combined.

Re:Oh A-Town (1)

mk1004 (2488060) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223775)

Doesn't really surprise me in this particular city. They'll probably use it for aerial views of the Cowboys losing. :(

Only if Jerry gets his cut.

I actually think this is a good thing... (3, Insightful)

Covalent (1001277) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223133)

Originally there was some opposition to police car dashboard cameras. The thinking was that they would result in an invasion of privacy for average citizens. This has actually happened to a small extent, but I think the primary result has been an increased transparency of the police department. Procedures are better followed and cops who violate rules are more easily punished.

So for all of the doom and gloom about a police state and the lack of privacy this technology will bring, I tend to think the opposite will happen - Police departments that use these UAVs for inappropriate purposes will be caught and publicly denounced. In the meantime, they might actually find missing people or spot criminals, which is definitely a public good.

Re:I actually think this is a good thing... (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223327)

Procedures are better followed and cops who violate rules are more easily punished.

That's the funniest thing I've read all week.

Cops still act like they can confiscate cameras and make you delete images, they still beat people for no good reason, and they do still do all of the shit they always did.

Now they've learned to do it out of frame of the dashboard camera.

In the meantime, they might actually find missing people or spot criminals, which is definitely a public good.

Oh, won't someone think of the children? As long as someone is keeping the children safe, everything must be good, right?

Sorry, but while it's possible to find one or more cases where this is of benefit, there are far more cases where it will be used to our detriment. Until they can make damned sure they won't abuse it, making excuses for a few cases where it will be helpful is just playing into their hands.

Arbitrary search and seizure anywhere within 200 miles of a border might catch some bad people, but mostly it's just encroaching on rights and sucks.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety

Re:I actually think this is a good thing... (3, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223525)

Bit of a strawman there. GP wasn't claiming dashboard cams were a magical solution to 100% all police misconduct problems. They have though ensnared some cops behaving poorly, and have not created a police state by themselves. Were the dashboard cams not there, there would be a few more victims of cops being cops, a few more bad cops on the streets, and would still have as much of a police state as we have now. That was GP's point.

I disagree with GP that drones are going to backfire much on cops though, at least without causing a tragedy. Even if a drone gets sucked into an engine and people die as a result, I'm sure the cops will get to keep their overpriced toys and we'll keep paying for it.

Re:I actually think this is a good thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43224045)

It can only be used at 400 feet, with LOS in daytime. Calling out the drone dude is like calling out the bombsquad guy, expensive, time consuming, and creates an enormous amount of paperwork. Also, this has no weapons, no flir, and the camera is barely useful for what they are intending to do.

This is so they don't have to mobilize the 1000$ an hour chopper for anything worse then an emergency situation.

what you need to worry about is the military stye models that can loiter for a week, and tell how many pimples you have from 20,000 feet. not the overgrown RC toys that will fall over in high wind and have radios that will barely work at a few hundred feet.

Re:I actually think this is a good thing... (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,27 days | (#43225349)

I know hobby planes are getting more sophisticated, but this is well beyond [youtube.com]

It is cheaper to fly than a full scale helo.

or (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223349)

like my city ~1 million inhabitants, the police dash cams are often turned off, or they "forget" to change the tapes (yes, they run off VCRs), or some other thing happens exactly when the tape would be most useful

don't piss on us and tell us it's raining.

Re:or (1)

mk1004 (2488060) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223931)

Yes, the technology is there to buffer video to a hard drive, and to capture several minutes before and after the lights/sirens are activated. And to download video daily to a secure server that would meet evidence standards and would be difficult to circumvent. It's also possible to set up the camera so that it can't be easily 'adjusted' or obstructed by an officer as he exits the vehicle during a stop. But police departments see the dash cams as useful tools only to a point--they don't want any unbiased evidence of potential wrongdoing by one of their own. So dash cams are easy to manipulate; a situation unlikely to change.

Re:I actually think this is a good thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223425)

Originally there was some opposition to police car dashboard cameras. The thinking was that they would result in an invasion of privacy for average citizens. This has actually happened to a small extent, but I think the primary result has been an increased transparency of the police department. Procedures are better followed and cops who violate rules are more easily punished.

So for all of the doom and gloom about a police state and the lack of privacy this technology will bring, I tend to think the opposite will happen - Police departments that use these UAVs for inappropriate purposes will be caught and publicly denounced. In the meantime, they might actually find missing people or spot criminals, which is definitely a public good.

So you think cops will use the drones to record their own activities? Yeahhhhh......suuuuure.....

"Searching for missing people" is the coverup (1)

Sunshinerat (1114191) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224309)

The use of "Searching for missing people" is obvious the cover for any misconduct. You can always be looking for missing people, everywhere and at any time. Do something you should not be doing with a drone, use the excuse of searching for missing people.

Re:I actually think this is a good thing... (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224445)

I am fine with them flying a drone. ... Until they couple of to a face recognition database, and store my walk of life in another database.

It's not that I don't trust the cops. I do. I just don't trust that all my private data is safe on some database.

Re:I actually think this is a good thing... (1)

Bugler412 (2610815) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224775)

They don't need facial recognition. They just note the signal from the cell phone in your pocket and look it up.

Re:I actually think this is a good thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43225049)

Answer: Anti-facial recognition devices and faraday pouches.

Any technology can be defeated if you know how it works.

Re:I actually think this is a good thing... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43224953)

"but I think the primary result has been an increased transparency of the police department"

Say what? For the most part it has simply resulted in evidence used against defendants when the police are in the right, and "lost" or "damaged" footage when they did something wrong. Off the top of my head there are two cases where police attempted to damage/alter video footage to prevent evidence against themselves (but ultimately were outed). The Hollywood FL framing where police edited footage sent to A DEFENSE LAWYER removing footage of them attempting to frame an individual as the sole responsible party of an auto accident. And the Michael Deherra beating where CCTV camera was specifically panned away from a scene to prevent it from capturing a savage beating of someone for the horrible crime of having a heated conversation on a mobile phone. I'll admit police footage COULD be an instrument of transparency, but only if the footage was maintained by a third party and there were severe criminal consequences for its destruction/altering. Currently neither of those conditions exist anywhere in the US that I am aware of.

Re:I actually think this is a good thing... (1)

sjames (1099) | 1 year,27 days | (#43225287)

Nah, the dashcams are known to have an unusually high failure rate whenever it's existence might benefit a citizen.

Turkey Shoot (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223149)

Given the operational parameters I predict a short life span for these.

Re:Turkey Shoot (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223343)

Boy howdy are you right. About a third of all Texans will shoot down these things on principle,and another third will shoot 'em down just for fun. I mean, a chance to gun down a flying robot? Who could pass that up? (In fact, once these things can be bought cheap enough, I expect shooting ranges will offer them as premium targets.)

Re:Turkey Shoot (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43224387)

or expanded use to justify the expense

Please fly over my house (2)

Anon-Admin (443764) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223163)

Please, please fly one of them over my house.

That way they can have an mid air collision with the Estes model rocket I will happen to be launching at the time. My special one where I replace the parachute cord with steal cable to make sure it does not break. :P

Re:Please fly over my house (1)

jest3r (458429) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223267)

If one of these things is flying over YOUR PROPERTY are you allowed to blast it out of the sky?

Or will doing so bring the wrath of the justice department upon you until you are either bankrupt, in jail, or worse.

It seems like surveillance state / police state is becoming a reality.

Re:Please fly over my house (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223577)

No, because you don't own your airspace above x feet (where x is relatively small). The same reason you can't shoot down manned aircraft flying over your house.

Re:Please fly over my house (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223635)

Building HERF guns [hackaday.com] out of old microwaves may become a new hobby.

Re:Please fly over my house (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224497)

It's weird that Texans seem to think it is easier to build guns and other elaborate schemes to destroy their own count(r)y's property than to just vote for a different politician.

Re:Please fly over my house (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,27 days | (#43225063)

It's far more wierd that there are actually people out there that think voting for "the other guy" is going to make a lick of difference.

FWIW, we tried that before, and you know what it got us? Black Bush. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Please fly over my house (2)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224015)

If one of these things is flying over YOUR PROPERTY are you allowed to blast it out of the sky?

If the police are flying over your property in a police helicopter are you allowed to blast it out of the sky?

Re:Please fly over my house (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223637)

If you have that kind of aim with a model rocket I would be impressed. I don't and I've got a TRA level 3 cert.

Re:Please fly over my house (1)

i kan reed (749298) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224463)

"Member of slashdot terrorist organization involved in rocket terror attack on local police more at 11. Police say subject resisted arrest by repeatedly pepper spraying himself"

Re:Please fly over my house (1)

serialband (447336) | 1 year,27 days | (#43225179)

It would be easier, and much safer, to just get the same remote control unit, set to the same frequency, to override the controls and cause a crash. If you're not directly visible, it would be harder to identify the person responsible for the destruction of police property.

capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223187)

When will you buffoons accept that any selfish philosophy will inevitably end up in the government being run by businessmen, for businessmen?

The police service exists firstly to make revenue for itself, and secondly to make revenue for its friends who provide it with useless toys.

Feudalism failed. Capitalism failed (I put 1973 as capitalism's final death - when the government took full control of the money supply - although there have been so much state interventions/tweaks since then that it's never really stood on its own two feet). State capitalism failed (although that bastard Stalin called it "communism").

Mankind's never going to move forward again until it continues with the principle of being decent to each other rather than being out for oneself, something which died around the time ex-cowboy actor Reagan ascended to the throne. Bring back social democracy.

What's The Difference? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223189)

How are these "new" rules/permissions any different than what have already existed for hobby RC flight?

Under 400 feet. Check.
In sight of operator. Check.
Daytime only. Check.(?)

Being in contact with the control tower is a new requirement that has not been present for hobbyists in the past, that I am aware of.

So, what's new/different about the po po vs prior rules?

Military Drone? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223285)

This is an RC helicopter.

The heli referenced in TFA is equivalent to the Align T-Rex 700 [heliproz.com]

Hyperbole much?

Re:What's The Difference? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223287)

So, what's new/different about the po po vs prior rules?

Po po makes p-p-pussies pee pee in their p-p-panties.

Re:What's The Difference? (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223641)

Rules Of Evidence i would guess since a UAV can see stuff that would normally need a Warrent

Re:What's The Difference? (2)

Svartalf (2997) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224075)

Ah, but they won't use a Warrant. Already know of a county (Nearby Tarrant...) illegally using manned surveillance planes to "spot animal cruelty" from the air.

Re:What's The Difference? (1)

PPH (736903) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224733)

Hobby RC flight usually occurs in limited and well known areas. So people know where to expect RC aircraft. Likewise, this is why there is a control tower contact requirement. Because they intend to operate outside of these restricted areas, they need some way of notifying those responsible for airspace control of their presence.

Re:What's The Difference? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43224747)

Putting an unmanned, slow obstacle anywhere near airspace where the lives of passengers are at risk is not a great idea, that's why you can't operate a R/C model to operate within (at least a mile, I thought it was 2) of an airfield's designated airspace because they're damn near invisible to the pilots of planes that are already at risk.

When a plane is near an airfield and below 1000' above the ground, it probably means it's taking off or landing. At this point, passenger aircraft are low to the ground, closer to stall speed, configured for maximum lift/drag and the pilots have their highest workload, with communication and transition in or out of landing/take-off configuration. Controlling this transition (when mechanical failure is most likely) requires concentration on the instruments, communication with air traffic control (ATC), situational awareness and reasonable assurance that you're not going to find some unknown vehicle in your path. The thought that there might be a 40 pound obstacle sitting in my take-off or landing path is NOT confidence building.

Even if these new police toys have transponders (which allow for a unique ID to enhance the radar screen at the tower or area controller's radar) it's an delusional to believe there's much benefit in having the cop on the ground telling ATC he's piloting his pet rock in my airspace! The operator of these things will have their hands full and their minds on a completely different situation; one taking place on the ground. They won't be outfitted with collision detection systems. And if you ever hear about one being involved in a near or fatal midair collision it'll be be the last time you hear that department operating one anywhere near a flight path, or probably at all, because the city attorney will point out just how fantastically damaging the liability for a crash would be, not just in terms of the financial payout for which they will not be indemnified by any right-minded insurance company.

Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223193)

Given that this is the same State that recently had to be told to stop shooting people from helicopters, I really don't understand the hysteria over unarmed reconnaissance drones. There are real and present dangers to worry about with our police departments; screaming about hypothetical, flying, robotic killing machines comes off as a bit superfluous in that light.

Re:Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223263)

I think the fear is that, given the way military surplus gear and tactics get handed down to police, and the reputation of these departments, it won't stay limited to just reconnaissance.

Dammit Slashdot Editors!!!! (3, Informative)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223203)

R/C aircraft != UAV.

See the 2nd link in the summary. The thing even has a RADIO!!!!!

How many times does it have to be pointed out?????

Re:Dammit Slashdot Editors!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223265)

R/C aircraft != UAV.

See the 2nd link in the summary. The thing even has a RADIO!!!!!

How many times does it have to be pointed out?????

I've been flying rc helis for a few years now, and I agree. Also, flight times for these usually range between 4 minutes for aggressive flying to around a max of ~7 minutes for mild. Mult-rotors get more time, but not single rotor collective pitch.

Re:Dammit Slashdot Editors!!!! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223289)

UAV

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

R/C aircraft - they're unmanned, aerial and a vehicle.

Are you going to drone on and on about the differences?

Re:Dammit Slashdot Editors!!!! (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223353)

Out of curiosity, what is the line that separates a UAV from a R/C? I mean, there are some R/Cs out there that are on steroids – and some really cheap UAV. Is it a subjective thing or is there a rule? (Is it like Horse vs. Pony. There are some hard rules, such as being under 14.2 hands and some subject rules – such as the Icelandic horse has always been called a horse, so it is a horse, even though it is under 14 hands.)

Re:Dammit Slashdot Editors!!!! (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223489)

I think it's subjective, but IMO, something that qualifies as a UAV has at least some degree of automation to reduce pilot workload, and also IMO, if it's not able to operate without the operator in constant direct visual contact with the aircraft, it isn't a UAV.

e.g. FPV R/C operation is right on what I personally consider the border between R/C and UAV. If the aircraft can automatically fly between a few waypoints but can't land/take off without pilot interaction, I firmly believe it's in UAV territory.

Again, this is all personal opinion, and things are pretty subjective here.

Re:Dammit Slashdot Editors!!!! (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224145)

Out of curiosity, what is the line that separates a UAV from a R/C? I mean, there are some R/Cs out there that are on steroids â" and some really cheap UAV. Is it a subjective thing or is there a rule? (Is it like Horse vs. Pony. There are some hard rules, such as being under 14.2 hands and some subject rules

I don't believe there is a hard line between the two similar to the example you posted. My personal definition would be anything that operates outside of the limited boundaries that model airplane hobbyists are permitted would be a UAV. Similarly I would include an aircraft where the operator uses a POV from the aircraft for operation as a UAV.

"Purpose" distinguishes hobby RC Aircraft from UAV (1)

C0L0PH0N (613595) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224255)

Radio controlled aircraft used to be just hobby aircraft. But in the past few decades, military versions of UAV's have proven that they can be used for lethal purposes. With terrorism on the rise, and as the number and type of UAV's growing hugely (I mean, they will have unmanned full sized fighter planes soon, for real!), the US government has correctly decided to regulate UAV's. The hobby lobby (couldn't resist that), has done a stellar job working with the FAA in protecting the venue of the RC hobbyists. One of the ways to distinguish a "UAV" from an RC hobby aircraft is "purpose". Am I enjoying my hobby, or am I taking pictures of houses for a Real Estate company. Moving away from strict hobby use to Commercial or Military use redefines the RC aircraft from "hobby use" to "UAV", under a different set of laws, even if it is the same plane. Hobbyists are limited to 400', line of sight, weight restrictions, no-flyover-people, and must contact the airport if flown within 3 miles of an airport. By following these rules, we hobbyists protect our hobby even in the face of more strict UAV laws. And even we hobbyists get "NOTAM" alerts, shutting us down for a few hours when the POTUS comes to town.

Re:Dammit Slashdot Editors!!!! (1)

Alioth (221270) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224777)

This thing in the article (the Avenger) is actually just a bog standard RC helicopter with some extra stuff added to the airframe. It really is not dissimilar to a typical pod-and-boom 3D RC helicopter like the T-Rex 700E.

Re:Dammit Slashdot Editors!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43225277)

"R/C" can be applied to any class of remotely controlled vehicle. "UAV" can be applied to any class of unmanned air vehicle. The two terms intersect at the set of "remotely controlled air vehicles". However a UAV can be an autonomous drone, or an uncontrolled vehicle (like a paper airplane). On the Other hand you can have an R/C car or boat, but neither an autonomous drone nor a paper airplane are "R/C aircraft".

If we restrict our conversation to only air vehicles than "R/C" is a subset of "UAV".

Re:Dammit Slashdot Editors!!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223481)

Wrong. Of course it has a radio, how else would it communicate with the controller? The distinction people seem to be making between RC aircraft and UAVs is whether or not there is any autonomous features and a camera. This falls into the UAV category because it supports autonomous flight in that you can set a "mission" and it will follow it.

Re:Dammit Slashdot Editors!!!! (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224245)

UAV's have radios. That is how they communicate with their controller. In fact every time you shoot any kind of information through the air you are using a radio... Your cell phone has a radio. Your laptop has a radio. Your car as a radio. You should rethink how important a radio is as a feature demanding outrage.

Re:Dammit Slashdot Editors!!!! (1)

gravis777 (123605) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224311)

Completely agree, although local newspapers and television stations have been using the word "drones" lately.

All these are is unmanned, radio controlled helicopters pretty much, with cameras. It is basically a cost-cutting measure so that the Arlington Police Department doesn't have to lease time from the Fort Worth Police helicopters. The savings to the city is considerable.

They have been test flying these lately. They look like any hobbiests Radio Controlled helicopters. Except they have cameras. And they can't be used if there isn't a controller operating them.

Welcome to the surveillance state ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223231)

Having been mocked for saying we're screeching towards Big Brother and the surveillance state ... here you go.

This will go through the inevitable scope creep until it becomes 24x7, warrantless, and used for whatever they want it to be. All political parties are willing to allow this to happen these days/

Enjoy it bitches, you don't live in a free country any more, and you never will again.

Sorry could you repeat that? (2)

ctrlshift (2616337) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223393)

Excuse me Mr. Government Guy, Mr. Reporter? I think I missed the part where you assured us that these drones wouldn't be armed. Or in some way acknowledged everyone's tacit reservations about using drones in civilian areas. *checks TFA again* yep, definitely missed that. If you could just append here.......and.....here....

right and Airwolf was just a Bell 222a (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | 1 year,27 days | (#43223569)

given that i bet these are the Exact Same UAVs used in military contexts i put it no more than 5 years before "Less Than Lethal" ammo is normally loaded onto these.

Those Feds sure are nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43223723)

"The FAA has granted permission for the Arlington police to fly these unmanned aircraft under certain circumstances"

Sure is nice of them to allow Texans to fly shit over TEXAS.

You people are pussies, apparently in Texas also.

Wake up.

"not the same as military drones"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43224059)

Uh, considering the drones that've recently been developed and are being proven out in the current theaters of operation, the short response to the "not the same" is, "Uh, BULLSHIT!"

Double-standard (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224065)

The issue I have with all these complaints is it seems like the rule is this: According to Slashdot's readers, the police are allowed to do something if it's hard and expensive, but they're not allowed to do something if it's easy.

For example, the police are allowed to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars secretly tailing Tony Soprano, seeing where he goes and who he meets with. However, they're NOT allowed to put a GPS on Tony's car to do exactly the same thing.

The police are allowed to operate helicopters over a city to help fight crime, complete with HD and nightvision cameras, provided they are multi-million dollar whirlybirds with expensive operators, but they're NOT allowed to operate a remote-control helicopter with a Canon Handycam bolted to it.

Which is it, Slashdot?

Re:Double-standard (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224193)

That's because the effort required limits use of those technologies. All of our privacy laws and court rulings are based on contemporaneous limits of technology. Remember when police figured out a way to scan the interiors of houses with heat sensors to find pot growers? Law enforcement isn't going to deploy 24-7 helicopter surveillance, but with drones that becomes a distinct possibility.

Re:Double-standard (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224723)

That's because the effort required limits use of those technologies.

What do you think about police having radios in their cars? Should they be using call-boxes on the corners instead? The efforts required limits the use of that technology to 'call in' someone acting suspiciously. What about the computers in police cars now? Should they pull them out? After all, the computer means the police officer can run a plate more easily to see if the car in front of them is stolen. What about DNA testing? They should probably stick to fingerprints.

Police should either be able to do something or not be able to do it. Whether or not doing it is 'easy' is irrelevant. That's not a constitutional measure. Surveillance from the air is either allowed or it isn't - Be it in a $10M helicopter or a $10K drone.

Re:Double-standard (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | 1 year,27 days | (#43225065)

Did you read my post or just respond to the first sentence? Hell their cars could be fusion powered. That had no bearing on how my rights are infringed. Being able to xray scan my house does if that tech ever evolves.

And, you're wrong because courts have already ruled that the ease of use of technology affects how much access law enforcement has to it. Sticking a GPS unit on my car is illegal without a warrant, but tailing me with a detective is not.

Re:Double-standard (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224207)

Not to mention that if I have a RC helicopter with a Canon Handycam bolted to it that I use to do aerial photography or surveying or something else not related to law enforcement, I am of course allowed to use it and passing a law saying I can't is a violation of my civil rights and personal freedom.

Re:Double-standard (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224429)

Do you know how a lock keeps people out of your house? It makes it more difficult to get in. The more robust the lock, the more deterrent it is, therefore fewer people will try or be successful in breaking into your house. Same principle here. If something is difficult and expensive for the police to do, it will be used sparingly and only when really necessary. If it is cheap and easy they will do it a lot more.

Re:Double-standard (1)

Bugler412 (2610815) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224839)

Because the ease of and lack of expense (compared to earlier more labor intensive methods) in these new technological methods takes away an inherent and not legally codified limit to surveillance. Before this and other tech methods, there was an inherent manpower/time/cost limit that prevented bulk surveillance of large numbers of people, these methods destroy that former inherent limit.

For what definition of Missing? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224161)

Does that include all citizens that the government currently does not know where they are and what they are doing, or just people actually on missing lists?

And when it is scanning all those people looking for little lost Jullian, does it record who it saw where, and alert police if it sees a crime?

"in support of public safety" (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224257)

My ass... more like "we want a dragnet so we can charge more people with petty crimes to raise more money for our department."

Hacked drones? (1)

grantspassalan (2531078) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224389)

The military has been able to get away with operating drones in places like Afghanistan, because there are not very many people there who have sophisticated hacking ability. Since these drones are radio controlled flying computers, like every computer ever created by the mind of man, they too can be hacked and jammed. Any of these drones that depend on GPS data, could be made to fly who knows where until they run out of juice or fuel. Because GPS signals originate from satellites hundreds or even thousands of miles away, these signals are rather weak and are easily overpowered by local jamming. If this drone thing becomes ubiquitous, there will be electronic warfare just as there is now on the Internet. The difference is that on the Internet, people's lives are seldom endangered by hackers. There is a much greater chance that someone could get killed by a hacked and misguided drone. A few expensive lawsuits later, most police departments would likely forgo the use of such vulnerable technology and go back to old-fashioned standard police work.

Re:Hacked drones? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | 1 year,27 days | (#43225203)

This drone is a fully-remote thing, so GPS wouldn't do it. If you jammed the control signal - which shouldn't be hard at all - then it'd probably crash into the ground or go flying off crazily until it hits something. At least it'll just go into hover mode, drifting slowly. This would certainly be illegal though: Even if it runs in an unlicensed spectrum, you'd need more power than you can legally transmit.

Apparently, not even the poster RTFA (1)

gravis777 (123605) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224407)

received authorization to start using drones

From the article this link points to:

Police are quick to emphasize that the 4- to 5-foot-long aircraft aren’t the same as military drones.

“They’re unmanned aircraft,” Arlington police spokeswoman Tiara Richard said. “They aren’t military grade. They’re somewhere in between that and remote-control helicopters that are used recreationally.”

And remember kids. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224521)

Hunting rifles will easily take these down, you have a 3 UAV limit per day.... Dont be a hog, let others have fun shooting them as well. The state will get more of them each month.

Re:And remember kids. (1)

wesk (2662405) | 1 year,27 days | (#43224609)

A few nails or tacks could also easily disable a squad car...but I wouldn't recommend you attempt either of these.

How is this any different then a manned Helicopter (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43224651)

Seriously? It's not, when it comes to privacy issues you all seem to be so worried about. They have far better EO/IR packages on the Police helicopters they currently use, and can watch / record you from anywhere as it is. So, they want to move to something cheaper. Cool. The big deal is?

If you're gonna bitch and moan about the "UAVs" they want to use, in a highly limited fashion at a much lower altitude with far less advanced optics in LOS operation only, that cost far less then manned aircraft then cool. But you look like an idiot because they have far better platforms to spy on you with and they've been using them far longer with almost zero complaints by people. But hey, its an evil UAV. Whatevs.

Re:How is this any different then a manned Helicop (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | 1 year,27 days | (#43225307)

The 'cheaper' is the issue. A 'copter is expensive: The police aren't going to get that out unless they have a specific need for it, like a search-and-rescue operation or wanting aerial coverage of a SWAT raid on an armed suspect. Drones are cheaper, which means it becomes practical for them to go trawling for easy arrests - looking for speeding vehicles, fly-tippers, illegal water butts, violation of water usage laws, etc. While it can be a good thing that enforcing the law becomes easier (all those things are illegal for reasons, even if the water butts one is a very unpopular law), it also makes it much easier for the police to abuse: Eg, someone upsets a police officer or local government official in some manner, and for the next week a drone makes occasional passes over their house in the hope that maybe they'll use the lawn sprinklers during a drought or failed to maintain the minimum seperation between their garden tree and the neighouring house seperated by fire codes. The state of police varies greatly even within a single state, but stories abound of police departments and individual officers willing to abuse their power for often quite petty reasons.

Expensive toys (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,27 days | (#43225025)

Don't know if two is all they bought, but damn, those things aren't cheap.

http://arlingtontx.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=902&meta_id=111433

EMP drones (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | 1 year,27 days | (#43225299)

An autonomous EMP-armed drone; just have to get close enough...

Down side: it will only justify accelerating the Police State. Same reason one can't (shouldn't) bring great justice to some truly scumbag governors (aka Koch Whores).
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