Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

LAPD Gets Some Hand-Me-Down Drones From Seattle, Promises Discretion

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the orange-groves-as-far-as-the-eye-can-see dept.

Crime 108

After Seattleites objected to the local police department's plan to deploy unmanned aircraft, that plan was withdrawn. Now, it seems, Seattle has found a willing recipient for some of the drones that it no longer has use for: the Los Angeles Police Department. From the linked article: "The Draganflyer X6 aircraft, which resemble small helicopters, are each about 3 feet wide and equipped with a camera, video camera and infrared night-vision capabilities. In making the announcement, however, department officials were at pains to make it clear the LAPD doesn't intend to use the new hardware to keep watch from above over an unsuspecting public. If they're used at all, the remotely controlled aircraft will be called on only for "narrow and prescribed uses" that will be made clear to the public, the statement said."

cancel ×

108 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Don't worry (4, Funny)

Great Big Bird (1751616) | about 4 months ago | (#47139243)

Don't worry, we trust you completely.

Re:Don't worry (1)

c6gunner (950153) | about 4 months ago | (#47139683)

I'm curious - how exactly do you imagine this technology could be misused?

Follow someone around? Pretty sure cops already do that ...

What else is there?

Re:Don't worry (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139733)

I'm curious - how exactly do you imagine this technology could be misused?

If you can't imagine the misuse of this tech, you have a VERY poor imagination.

Re:Don't worry (2)

penix1 (722987) | about 4 months ago | (#47139851)

You still didn't answer his question...

I can think of one thing. These devices have night vision capabilities and can look into windows where the lights are out turning them into glorified peeping Toms. There is no expectation of privacy in public spaces but when they start looking into windows there IS an expectation of privacy.

Re:Don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139887)

i hate the LAPD. they used to be wannabe thugs. but bs post-911 PATRIOT ACT dollars have turned them into a paramilitary force with assault weapons, airplanes, armored vehicles, and now drones. I imagine they'll be flying these around every public event, recording all video. "just in case". fuck them. i'm a law abiding citizen. I should be free from police harassment and constant surveillance.

Re:Don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47140007)

These devices have night vision capabilities and can look into windows where the lights are out turning them into glorified peeping Toms.

Actually glass is quite completely opaque to thermal infrared radiation...

Re:Don't worry (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 4 months ago | (#47140027)

But not to near-infrared. Many 'night vision cameras' are actually NIR cameras with a lot of very bright NIR LEDs - they can be made more powerful for a given size than cost than visible-light LEDs. I don't know if the drones use NIR cameras, but if they don't there's no reason they couldn't.

That said, only copter-drones can hover outside a window, and their noise level isn't exactly stealthy.

Re:Don't worry (1)

aurizon (122550) | about 3 months ago | (#47148393)

Just buy some invisible IR light units, and shine them into the camera eyes of any spying device. Placed outside on the window ledge with a slight up angle, they will not illuminate anything on the ground, but anyone who wants to peer into your widows with night vision (NV) will find the bright IR lamps will desense their NV.
These are often used to hinder attacking enemies with NV goggles, although this has developed into a spy vs counter spy among the various national forces that use NV.

Re:Don't worry (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 3 months ago | (#47149633)

Nice idea, but I think it may backfire. Your IR-window is going to be shining bright for blocks around, which effectively flags you as someone trying to hide and thus potentially Up To No Good. You'd just single yourself out for the special spying attention.

Re:Don't worry (1)

aurizon (122550) | about 3 months ago | (#47149717)

that is why I directed it upwards, to minimize street level light.
If it gets popular, so many will have them....

Re:Don't worry (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 3 months ago | (#47150011)

The way to do it would be to manufacture tacky Christmas window decorations with a cheerful santa figure in red and white LEDs - and NIR super-brights in between them. Then sell them cheap.

Re:Don't worry (1)

aurizon (122550) | about 3 months ago | (#47150051)

yes, hidden in plain sight...

Re:Don't worry (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 4 months ago | (#47140587)

Being the LAPD, you can bet those drones will be weaponized in short order.

Re:Don't worry (2)

sjames (1099) | about 4 months ago | (#47141603)

Given their history, I can easily imagine all sorts of spying and they'll somehow manage to kill a dog with it.

Re:Don't worry (1)

allaunjsilverfox2 (882195) | about 4 months ago | (#47143483)

Given their history, I can easily imagine all sorts of spying and they'll somehow manage to kill a dog with it.

And then claim that there was a "clear and imminent danger to the drone" when it gets reported.

Re:Don't worry (1)

sjames (1099) | about 4 months ago | (#47143997)

I'm sure the dog will wag menacingly at it.

Re:Don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47141681)

How many doughnuts does it carry?

Re:Don't worry (1)

Grow Old Timber (1071718) | about 4 months ago | (#47143033)

Missuses? Let's see; Looking into windows, backyards. A cop on the street does have a smaller scope... privacy be dog-gone.

Re:Don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47147257)

I'm curious - how exactly do you imagine this technology could be misused?

Things for which there are no probably cause.

This for which the only evidence is on private property and not visible to anybody else.

Courts have already upheld that flying around with IR cameras violates people's rights.

Selectively applying whatever they can find to make stick against people they single out.

Parallel construction.

Any number of things.

If you're OK with allowing the cops blanket surveillance with little or no controls, you've really really not been paying attention.

And if you think "you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide" makes sense, you're an idiot.

Re:Don't worry (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 4 months ago | (#47142123)

I like how the LAPD guns down innocent people when scary events make them twitchy. spray enough bullets around, and you'll get a bad person sometimes, but it's guarenteed you'll instill fear and respect in the populace every time.

Re:Don't worry (1)

Jason Goatcher (3498937) | about 4 months ago | (#47143475)

Fear and respect generally don't go together. There's probably a better word than respect for the combination you're thinking of, but the word escapes me.

Re:Don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47147895)

Why would you trust moose droppings?

ObSouth Park (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 4 months ago | (#47139245)

Maybe we should use... oh what's that word... starts with a D and we never use it?

Figures... (2)

roc97007 (608802) | about 4 months ago | (#47139271)

It figures it'd be the LAPD. What other police force on the west coast would hunger for this kind of invasiveness?

Re:Figures... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 months ago | (#47139291)

Eh, LAPD is just the biggest. You think that there isn't a single Orange County burbclave whose rentacops and HOA-pearl-clutchers wouldn't love to have a toy like that keeping 'crime' away from good people like them? It's not quite 'God Bless Joe Arpaio' country out there; but California is hardly a hotbed of civil libertarians.

Now, given the LAPD's storied and honorable history, they are definitely on the list of people who should never be given something that requires a promise of discretion; because they can't keep those; but I suspect there would be others interested in the hardware.

Re:Figures... (3, Insightful)

dbc (135354) | about 4 months ago | (#47139343)

Well, LAPD is probably the biggest, I'll give you that. But if you follow the news stories, you'd have to conclude that LAPD is also the most corrupt police force in California, or at least in the top 5. It has a history of lieing extensively and getting caught later.

Re:Figures... (1)

JustOK (667959) | about 4 months ago | (#47139977)

You have to look at the per-copita rate of copruption. LAPD is big, but is the incident of copruption any higher?

Re:Figures... (2)

Zenin (266666) | about 4 months ago | (#47140139)

Yes, and precisely because it's so large.

The larger the organization the more and larger nooks and crannies to hide in and the greater the resources to "defend" (cover up) incidents. Far more ability/resources to do harm, far more opportunities to do harm, far more reward from doing harm, far more ability to get lost in the woodwork and get away with it. The PD isn't unique; the rest of Los Angeles's governmental departments are much the same. From the school district, to the building codes, to street maintenance, to parks and rec.

The economics of scale are never more apparent than when it comes to corruption.

Re:Figures... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 months ago | (#47142095)

There is one notable discontinuity in the returns to scale on corruption: If the entity being corrupted is relatively small and can evade wider attention, corruption can simply swallow the whole thing and stop bothering with hiding.

The Hampton, FL [loweringthebar.net] , for instance, is less of a town with a corrupt police department, and more of a corrupt police department with some residents. You know you have a problem if the Florida legislature decides that your town is too corrupt to survive and goes about abolishing it...

Teneha, TX [latimes.com] operated a similar racket using 'asset forfeiture' laws rather than speeding tickets.

If you approach the task of corruption as that of being a small abcess hiding in a larger, more or less healthy, body, bigger is better. Even if the absolute level of corruption doesn't increase, more cash flowing around makes skimming a percent here and a percent there more worth the time and trouble. However, if you want to go all out, and achieve epic levels (per capita) of corruption, tiny insular shitholes with low risks of outside interference are a very competitive option.

Re:Figures... (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 4 months ago | (#47140337)

you'd have to conclude that LAPD is also the most corrupt police force in California, or at least in the top 5. It has a history of lieing extensively and getting caught later.

Sounds like LAPD has a history of being incompetent at being corrupt. They get caught at it.

It's just possible that "the most corrupt police force in CA" is so skilled at corruption that everyone thinks they're just fine as police go....

Re:Figures... (5, Interesting)

Sir Holo (531007) | about 4 months ago | (#47139377)

Well, LAPD flies their helicopters at less than 50 feet altitude, in the middle of the night, in Santa Monica — which is NOT in their jurisdiction.

I've seen 4 X 8 foot panels of plywood flying around a home-remodeling site across the street due to the helicopter down-draft. And this was on a night with no major crimes. That is, it was "just for practice." Never mind that the public, whom they are supposed to protect and to serve, are being awakened for 2-3 hours in the middle of the night, and suffer property damage.

Having personally observed the above behavior, it's essentially guaranteed that TFA's drones will be used in an escalating series of invasive methods – especially ones that the law does not yet specifically prohibit.

LAPD have long been known to be excessively power-hungry, abusive, racist, and eager to use excessive force. These drones are just another tool to enable their continuing subjugation of the citizenry.

Re:Figures... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139753)

you fergot to end your rant with sumpthin "my lawn" sumpthin.

Re:Figures... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47142353)

And you forgot to address any of the substantive issues raised by GP. That is, you've contributed nothing worth reading.

Numbers... (5, Interesting)

westlake (615356) | about 4 months ago | (#47139415)

It figures it'd be the LAPD. What other police force on the west coast would hunger for this kind of invasiveness?

There is nothing on the west coast like the LAPD.

With 10,023 officers and 2,879 civilian staff, it is the third-largest local law enforcement agency in the United States, after the New York City Police Department and the Chicago Police Department. The department serves an area of 498 square miles (1,290 km2) and a population of 3,792,621 people as of the 2010 Census.

Los Angeles Police Department [wikipedia.org]

LAPD acquires two drones, to consider employing them for 'narrow' use [nydailynews.com]

The X6 is a spy drone with wireless video and still cameras (in hi-def, infra-red and 0 lux flavors) that can fly autonomously, or as a remote-controlled bot. It has 11 sensors (including gyros, accelerometers, barometers, magnetometers and GPS) and is so easy to pilot, a Wii gamer could do it. Now it will be used by the Ontario Provincial Police and the Saskatoon Police to patrol crime scenes and help gather evidence.

The Draganflyer X6 UAV Police Edition [gizmodo.com]

[March 2009]

Re:Numbers... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 4 months ago | (#47140039)

Their description of intent is vague, but I can imagine it being flown over cities with the TIR cameras running to look for very hot buildings - something police already do with helicopters, drones would just make it cheaper. A very hot building usually means someone is growing pot in there.

Usually, anyway. There have been a few incidents of people with things like tropical greenhouses getting their doors smashed down and a police squad running in with guns drawn. We had one in the UK where a family's heated guina-pig hut was mistaken for a pot factory - but this being the UK, the police issued a full apology for the mistake.

Re:Numbers... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47140191)

"but this being the UK, the police issued a full apology for the mistake"

What do you think the UK has a monopoly on people apologizing for mistakes made by state enforcement agents?

You know I really like our cousins across the pond, I like their history, they are a very friendly people, some of the best classic rock music, some of my favourite TV shows are BBC, and as users of the language, none are more adept.

But you have to admit you are a sanctimonious bunch of people, taken in general of course. Here's a news flash, you are not gods gift to democracy in any way. Your tyrannical gun control is an affront to free people everywhere who want to be able to defend themselves against armed criminals. Yes, you (generalizing again I know) are a smug, self absorbed, deluded bunch of has-been world rulers. Your empire is not what it used to be, and there is much destruction you have wrought - much good no doubt, but not all.

Look man, there's a reason we left the fucking place,

So if we are whipping our dicks out to compare sizes here's this;

http://fox13now.com/2012/10/05/slc-police-apologize-for-no-knock-raid-on-wrong-house/

http://lasvegas.cbslocal.com/2012/10/06/police-apologize-for-drug-raid-at-wrong-utah-home/

Re:Numbers... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47140289)

True there is a reason you left in the first place you were a bunch of sanctimonious pricks that wanted the right to oppress other people with your religious views.

Your so anally retentive about your right to bear arms to 'protect' your freedom from the evil guberment but cant hand those freedoms over quick enough when you get scared which is all the time.

Empires pot meet Kettle ? Ours lasted long than yours will at least ours for all the harm it did also introduced civic governance and trade etc like 'what did the romans ever do for us' , the only requirement under the British empire to keep your position was to do business with us else we would help your neighbor who would.

Contrast that to your way off bomb them back into the stone age and then 'hands off' management by paying mercenary companies huge amounts to do what little rebuilding you do and a harsh form of policing.

One of the reasons the empire fell is because we bankrupted ourselves buying stuff from your corporations who were selling to the other side at the same tome EVEN when you joined the war late as usual.

Speaking of dick swinging try looking up the real causes of the war with Canada - You decided it was your 'manifest' destiny to cover the entire continent and Lost despite what they teach you in schools. Your entire nation was founded on stolen IP from our Industrial revolution otherwise you would still be living in turf huts on the plains.

Keep drinking the Kool aid USA number 1 , land of the free etc.

The UK has numerous faults but at least we arent so self deluded about what our role has been in the world

Re:Figures... (3)

SpankiMonki (3493987) | about 4 months ago | (#47139743)

It figures it'd be the LAPD. What other police force on the west coast would hunger for this kind of invasiveness?

Uh, ALL the rest of them? And not limited to the west coast (or the USA, for that matter)

Re: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139949)

The LAPD needs to keep busy tracking their competition for drug smuggling. They normally have heliocopters in the air, so this can keep it cheaper and probably minimize the labor involved chasing the normal murders at night.

Re:Figures... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47144417)

It figures it'd be the LAPD. What other police force on the west coast would hunger for this kind of invasiveness?

I think you need to see how this could be applied. What about cars chases? You have no problem with the police chasing someone into an accident, where as they could deploy a drone back off and follow the suspect without them aware of it? Or using it in following a suspect on foot!

What is it everyone on /. says? Oh yeah, if your not doing anything wrong then you have nothing to fear! I really do not get the mob mentality of people to overreact to everything!

The LAPD and Feds use piloted helicopters just about 24/7 to monitor the city, so the idea of using drones shouldn't be alarming to anyone in the state.

Re:Figures... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 3 months ago | (#47147959)

I'm actually not ok with police chasing someone into an accident. The police, at least in the city where drones would be more likely to be used, have something more valuable: Multiple cars in different locations, and a dispatcher coordinating the location of the perp and engaging units in the perp's path. At least some (probably all) police departments have rules of engagement regarding chases which tend to get reviewed and strengthened after a bad crash. Consider the movie scenario of a lone unit pursuing a perp at high speed through the city -- it makes for exciting cinema, but what does it accomplish? It only ends when one or the other (or both) crashes their car. There are better ways, even without drones.

Too bad they might no't be able to use them (4, Informative)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | about 4 months ago | (#47139283)

The US House of Representatives passed H.R. 4660 yesterday, Rep,. Rush Holt (D-N.J) added a couple of amendments to this bill which prohibit local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies from purchasing or using unmanned aircraft based on privacy concerns....

So the next time a quad copter in the hands of a law enforcement agency could have potentially found a lost hiker, or monitored a wildfire etc.. I guess you're out of luck....

Re:Too bad they might no't be able to use them (2)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 4 months ago | (#47139305)

Why do I think "narrow and prescribed uses" does not mean "find a lost hiker". It has been my experience that plenty of aircraft are in the sky when there is a wildfire. I don't see why the police department would need to add more.

Re:Too bad they might no't be able to use them (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 4 months ago | (#47139893)

naturally, they will only use them to guard against terrorism. and for the first responders to school rampages and home invasions. You wouldn't have a problem with that, would you? also, good to use them when the president is speaking in town, just in case. why not just all public events; it can't hurt. and since they have to hire a dedicated staff of drone pilots anyway (union rules), they might as well get the most out of their investment. oh yeah they'll need a tax increase to cover the cost of keeping the public safer.

Re:Too bad they might no't be able to use them (5, Interesting)

Frobnicator (565869) | about 4 months ago | (#47139345)

The US House of Representatives passed H.R. 4660 yesterday, ... prohibit local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies from purchasing or using unmanned aircraft based on privacy concerns....So the next time a quad copter in the hands of a law enforcement agency could have potentially found a lost hiker, or monitored a wildfire etc.. I guess you're out of luck....

Depends on where you live, I suppose.

Here in the heart of the Rocky Mountains our search and rescue organizations are separate from law enforcement, covered under the department of public safety. Basically search and rescue is a sibling organization to the county sheriff offices.

I agree with the representative; I do not want the local LEOs to use drones for just about any reason. But I don't mind other governmental agencies, like search and rescue, fire departments, the department of wildlife resources, and other non-LEO organizations, using them for public good.

Re:Too bad they might no't be able to use them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139779)

Here in the heart of the Rocky Mountains our search and rescue organizations are separate from law enforcement, covered under the department of public safety.

Wow! I thinks that's the same we gots here in where I live! Erm, I mean, the heart of that area bounded by the Rio Grande on the south, the Sabine on the east, and injun territory to the north. Git it? Gotcha.

BTW, becuaes of our massive geographicological area, we needs that surveil-thingy. And not just fer trackn "undocumenteds". And this story is late as a whore without sufficient healthcare!. Jeebus, we've already solved half the problems you piss-ant nerds are griping aboit. Git with the pergrom!

Suck it bitchws!@

Re:Too bad they might no't be able to use them (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 months ago | (#47139347)

We do have public safety entities that aren't also branches of law enforcement, you know... Fire departments the National Forest Service, and similar, are often the ones interested in wildfires; and various flavors of park rangers (some of which do have law enforcement functions, some who don't) and similar usually care about lost hikers.

Now, if you want the things used for law enforcement, I suppose you are (by design) out of luck for the moment; but pretending that preventing cops from having them is just totally taking them off the table is silly.

Re:Too bad they might no't be able to use them (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47140281)

We do have public safety entities that aren't also branches of law enforcement, you know... Fire departments the National Forest Service, and similar, are often the ones interested in wildfires; and various flavors of park rangers (some of which do have law enforcement functions, some who don't) and similar usually care about lost hikers.

It's funny that you mention that sort of thing, because here in California firefighters were getting shot at for spying on people's property because they got involved in narcing to law enforcement. A stop was put to that, now they're back to just fighting fires. The REACT medi-heli has also been used for just surveying, although they usually hire another chopper for that since one of their dumbest, most corrupt cops broke the last one. Mostly they're too busy actually dealing with major collisions around here to use that chopper for anything else. Someone dies around the lake (the amazingly inaccurately named Clear Lake) every week, sometimes more.

Re:Too bad they might no't be able to use them (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 months ago | (#47141545)

It's a pity that it came to the point of shooting; but the firefighters should have realized from the beginning how corrosive to their actual purpose that plan was going to be. It's like a doctor getting into the business of identifying druggies and underage drinkers, then wondering why it's so hard to get an accurate medical history from a patient.

Re:Too bad they might no't be able to use them (1)

wasteoid (1897370) | about 4 months ago | (#47139449)

If law enforcement only used technology for good, we wouldn't have a problem, but law enforcement is performed by humans, and humans abuse power. This increase in technology increases their ability to abuse others, and since they are law enforcement, they suffer no consequences.

Re:Too bad they might no't be able to use them (4, Funny)

rossz (67331) | about 4 months ago | (#47139763)

I disagree with your assessment that law enforcement, specifically LAPD, are human.

Re:Too bad they might no't be able to use them (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 4 months ago | (#47140149)

What you need is something like the UK's IPCC - their job is to investigate complaints against the police. They have the powers to do so properly, and they are not themselves part of the police.

Whereas in the US, if you wish to make a complaint against your local police department, it will be investigated by... your local police department. If you wish to make a complaint about a specific officer, it'll likely be investigated by another officer in the same department and good friend of the accused. There's a conflict of interest that means police in the US have very little accountability. There's nothing much you can do. It doesn't help that the prosecution is a very political position, so even once the police themselves are done screwing you over the prosecutors are under heavy political pressure to play along and get a conviction quickly no matter what underhanded means are required to do so.

Re:Too bad they might no't be able to use them (1)

s.petry (762400) | about 4 months ago | (#47140949)

We have numerous agencies in the US to investigate complaints against the Police. It's just as effective as the UK's IPCC, meaning not that effective. Their main job is to keep citizens quiet by pretending to do something. In the most obvious and heinous criminal acts by police they may take some action, but that's not even true with the IPCC who has a record of never [opendemocracy.net] convicting an officer.

It's kind of like arguing that the US needs a Parliament to manage the NSA like they do in the UK with the GCHQ.

Re:Too bad they might no't be able to use them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139599)

... could have potentially found a lost hiker

If he truly is lost, he probably wants some company so no privacy concern exists. Besides, finding a lost person will benefit the condition of said person. Whereas the police trailing someone to find his hidden wacky tobaccy plant isn't so helpful to him. Bureaucrats will eventually define "narrow and prescribed uses" to mean any person who could have committed a crime; after she was born.

Re:Too bad they might no't be able to use them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139669)

It doesn't say anything about firefighters or search and rescue agencies from using drones...

Re:Too bad they might no't be able to use them (1)

sjames (1099) | about 4 months ago | (#47141729)

Yes, when hiking the rugged trails of LA, it's so easy to get lost.

Generally, in places where hikers get lost, they have rescue people who are not law enforcement who can use a quad copter all they want.

Your Tax $$$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139295)

Before people started calling them drones they were called Radio Controlled Planes and were super fun to play with. I remember 20 years ago seeing a person land a gas powered model float plane on the water at my cottage. Now that was skill!

Any tool the police can use to investigate hard to see areas, around corners, in crowds, hostage situations and to prevent officers getting in harms way is a good idea.

Difference between drones and RC aircraft (5, Informative)

Frobnicator (565869) | about 4 months ago | (#47139381)

There is still generally a big difference between drones and RC aircraft.

RC aircraft do include many of the quadcopters and traditional devices that are controlled by line-of-sight from a controlling box. The key difference is that RC aircraft are not fully autonomous.

Drones are the ones that can fly with autonomy, be programmed with routes, and otherwise do things independently from the radio controller.

These specific devices feature GPS-driven autopilot, dynamic routing, and automated photography systems. The website also lists some auto-drop functionality to deliver small packages to GPS coordinates. They can fly autonomously to GPS locations, take actions, fly elsewhere, take actions, then fly home.

While they do offer a regular controller box and can operate as normal RC aircraft, they are also GPS-drivable, programmably autonomous, and capable of fully automated flight and fully automated recording, so these Dragonflyer X6 devices very firmly fall into the 'drone' category.

Re:Difference between drones and RC aircraft (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 4 months ago | (#47140153)

The boundry isn't entirely clear. Some people consider the drones as any aircraft that is operated remotely without line of sight - ie, has a camera on board providing real-time visual back to the operator.

Re:Difference between drones and RC aircraft (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47140295)

There is still generally a big difference between drones and RC aircraft.
[...]
Drones are the ones that can fly with autonomy, be programmed with routes, and otherwise do things independently from the radio controller.

I agree with you, but you should know that the dictionary does not. Anything which can be controlled without a person in it is a drone. Autonomy is not required. Sure, I think it should be, but it ain't.

Re:Your Tax $$$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139503)

There is a difference now. Police departments have to arrest people or else police, DAs, judges, and even defense lawyers will lose their jobs due to the millions of dollars that the private prison industry tosses into political campaigns.

In reality, I would not surprised to see a UAV with FLIR used to watch parks, countryside, and other locations, then send the SWAT team to bust up a teenage party, some people making out in a city park after dusk, or a rave at someone's house, citing parallel construction as "proof" that drugs were involved. Great for pushing people down the hopper and into the jail/prison system. However, actual -law enforcement- (like getting rid of those guys who carjack and invade houses) won't really be done.

If you want your family protected, you either move out of California or pay for a security detail. It seems that way as states get more people, with the exception being NYC, which is the only US city that actually spends the cash needed to have a proper police force.

Cops have become the enemy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139303)

Its official. The cops in LA have now become the enemy of the people.

Re:Cops have become the enemy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139593)

Have only now become? Where the fuck you been, bro? You some kind of mo-ron?

Re:Cops have become the enemy. (1)

jmd (14060) | about 4 months ago | (#47139631)

Right... this is the latest in a very long history: http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-deputy-trial-20140529-story.html

I'll be so glad to be out of LA in a couple of weeks.

Precedent (1)

jargonburn (1950578) | about 4 months ago | (#47139317)

Great! Just what the law enforcement groups needed, really.
If they can find a jurisdiction that will tolerate or embrace this activity, they can hold it up as an example in other places to justify the adoption.
Once the movement reaches a critical threshold, it will be easy to force the "upgrade" even on comparatively hostile populations.

Our freedoms fall like dominoes.

Re:Precedent (1)

jargonburn (1950578) | about 4 months ago | (#47139327)

And, yes, I realize that LAPD claims they will only be for "narrow and prescribed uses".
Ha! Funny how such things change over time; I don't believe a word of it.

Re:Precedent (1)

penix1 (722987) | about 4 months ago | (#47139901)

I am going to play a bit of Devil's advocate here since I don't believe police departments need this capability but here we go...

I know it may be difficult for some here but harken back to 9/11 when it was found that capability the government possessed was not used or was brought in too late. There are whole sections in the 9/11 Commission Report on that very thing. Government employees all across the board were flayed alive for that. LA is a big city which makes it a ripe target and if it is found that the police had this capability and didn't use it, then the city officials, especially the police, will be flayed alive again.

As the old saying goes, you can't have 100% security and 100% liberty yet that is what the American public expects. The best you can achieve is a balance and this is a part of determining that balance. Limits will eventually be set for the use of these things. The best you can do is voice your concerns to your local government and keep the pressure on them to establish guidelines for its use.

LAPD Integrity (4, Informative)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 4 months ago | (#47139389)

department officials were at pains to make it clear the LAPD doesn't intend to use the new hardware to keep watch from above over an unsuspecting public.

Ahh, well that completely sets my mind at ease. How could anyone doubt the integrity of the LAPD [wikipedia.org] ?

Less of two evils (2)

recharged95 (782975) | about 4 months ago | (#47139395)

a. that's a 35K copter with NO GPS (the older models didn;t have it, though this could be retro fitted) and if upgraded, has hold position and that's it.
b. that 35K copter can be trumped by a @2K DJI phantom setup--if LAPD paid over 10K for that, I say it's a complete RIP OFF.
c. LA is a urban canyon in most places, GPS and RF will likely be a question--so the use will likely be limited.
d. does LAPD have a COA?

Re:Less of two evils (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47142007)

urban canyon? Have you been to LA outside of downtown? It's one of the sprawlingest cities I know of.

Re:Less of two evils (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47142125)

$2k DJI phantom? lol.... I could build this multirotor for less than $250 using off the shelf hardware and software. The whole thing is a scam.

Will the LAPD arrest and fine themselves? (3, Interesting)

Marful (861873) | about 4 months ago | (#47139489)

Even the LAPD needs a license.

As per the FAA website:

Busting Myths about the FAA and Unmanned Aircraft
http://www.faa.gov/news/update... [faa.gov]

Myth #3: Commercial UAS operations are a “gray area” in FAA regulations.

Fact—There are no shades of gray in FAA regulations. Anyone who wants to fly an aircraft—manned or unmanned—in U.S. airspace needs some level of FAA approval. Private sector (civil) users can obtain an experimental airworthiness certificate to conduct research and development, training and flight demonstrations. Commercial UAS operations are limited and require the operator to have certified aircraft and pilots, as well as operating approval. To date, only two UAS models (the Scan Eagle and Aerovironment’s Puma) have been certified, and they can only fly in the Arctic. Public entities (federal, state and local governments, and public universities) may apply for a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA)

Re:Will the LAPD arrest and fine themselves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139513)

The LAPD does what it wants, bitch.

Re:Will the LAPD arrest and fine themselves? (4, Interesting)

Frobnicator (565869) | about 4 months ago | (#47139841)

As per the FAA website:

As much as the FAA would love to regulate model aircraft, the guidelines generally don't apply. When they recently tried to enforce the rules (suing because a radio controlled meter-long craft was not piloted by an FAA-certified pilot) they were challenged in court - and lost.

There has been ONE case where the FAA actually tried to sue a model aircraft pilot in the past.

It is still going through the appeals process, but it doesn't look good for the FAA. It lost the case in a summary judgement that completely emasculated the FAA's claims on regulating model aircraft.

The judge basically reviewed the regulations and the definitions. None of the FAA policies appear directed at these small craft. All the regulations the judge found were discussing large, manned craft, or large unmanned craft, or large experimental aircraft. The law they rely on for their authority are based on large craft, and the current actual regulation for the smaller model aircraft is a simple safety guideline asking (not requiring under law) that certain polite behavior be followed, such as flying away from airports and under certain heights.

The judge found in the summary judgement that the FAA rules are regulations are built around certified pilots with so many hours in flight school, filing flight plans to ensure the craft do not interfere with military and commercial airlines, and tend to refer to large aircraft requiring airports and runways and high altitudes ... and they say nothing specific about model craft.

And of course, the judge noted, all the FAA guidelines and requirements mandated that the person operating a little 2-stick remote control have an FAA license with mandatory in-air flight time, noting it as being a nonsensical requirement for model aircraft. The summary judgement had little gems like calling the FAA guidelines "incompatible with the law", not "binding upon the general public",

The trial court judge also ruled that FAA policy notices are not binding law generally. As much as the FAA keeps claiming on their publications and policies that their word is the absolute law, the judge felt it was not. In part, any government mandated official policy has a bunch of requirements about comment periods, minimum time between posting and effectiveness, etc., and the FAA does not follow the legal requirements. It may be policy internally within the FAA, and the FAA can challenge FAA-certified pilots with violations that suspend their license, but it doesn't look the FAA currently has any jurisdiction on model pilots. Of course, as mentioned, appeal is pending, but it is improbable to succeed.

I cannot, in any way, fathom the appeal courts accepting that every person flying a model aircraft must have an FAA-issued pilots license, file flight plans for their model aircraft, notify ground control at the inception of flight, maintain radio contact with FAA systems, and so on. Every little kid with a little battery-powered glider would be facing enormous fines, payable to the FAA's general fund. There is no way that is happening.

Re:Will the LAPD arrest and fine themselves? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47140565)

I think it will wind up somewhere in between "total regulation" and "total free for all". the FAA does NOT require that everyone putting something into the air have a license (kites and free balloons in Part 103, for instance).

And you'll have to admit there is a significant qualitative difference between "bob and jane RC hobby flyer" with a 2 stick controller at the local park and an industrial entity (e.g. LAPD) flying a larger unit beyond line of sight.

The classic way that the FAA has dealt with this kind of thing in the past (and the way they're doing it now) is to require these "off nominal" situations to have some sort of written plan that describes what you're going to do, safety wise, and that, in the case of a UAV, is a CoA. Typical rules in a CoA, customized to each applicant, require at least 2 people who have some amount of training (not necessarily a pilot's certificate), one to operate the UAV and one to be a spotter who keeps it in sight, and warns the operator if there's something they need to be aware of.

Ultimately, our airspace is "see and avoid", and the vast majority of quadcopters and their ilk do NOT have sufficient real time visibility in all directions to be able to effectively see and avoid. For the RC model crowd, there's a "fly under 400 ft in an open area of limited size" which means "there's nothing to avoid". But all these proposed UAV folks want to fly in something other than an open area with no other traffic. They want to fly at 1000-2000 ft, they want to fly autonomously with GPS and no visual observation, etc. That's not model RC fun, that's a recipe for signficant problems.

A small plane will not be able to see that quadcopter zipping around until it's too late, with closing speeds of 100+ mi/hr, nor will the UAV operator see the small plane coming up from behind. Typical visual acuity, in good circumstances, is about 1 arc minute (or 0.2 milliradian). At 1 km, you can just resolve something 20cm across, so let's say you can see that quadcopter from about 300 meters away. Tooling along at 50 m/s (a typical cruising speed for small plane), you'll cover that in 6 seconds. Realistically, you're probably looking at 2-3 seconds warning when the UAV is definitely bigger than a speck or squashed bug on the windshield. I've been surprised by loose balloons flying over Disneyland: "whoa, what was that" as it whips by at 120 mi/hr.

Re:Will the LAPD arrest and fine themselves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47141149)

It hasnt been an issue because model aircraft generally arent flown over populated areas or in high traffic areas. Indeed RC hobbyists go out of their way to find an open field to fly over.

LAPD wants to fly them over peoples homes and in and around LAX traffic.

This will not end well.

hosted PTZ cameras (1)

hdrelay (3659945) | about 4 months ago | (#47139549)

Maximum big companies using HD camera technology to collect all the information from the company management. It is connected with LAN and WAN for proper management.http://www.hdrelay.com/

Helicopters (3)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | about 4 months ago | (#47139561)

They use choppers so much it seemed like a war zone there much if the time anyway. I'm glad I don't live there anymore. I live in a small town now that can't afford choppers. And they do fine. A PD relying on choppers is like the NSA relying on mass data collection-- unnecessary and intrusive.

Re:Helicopters (1)

jmd (14060) | about 4 months ago | (#47139617)

I agree. Daily they scan the skies. I live in LA. We call them ghetto birds.

Hand-me-downs? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 months ago | (#47139567)

"Pssst, you, copper, hear you're in the market for used skybots..."

Dont worry, its the LAPD (1)

MildlyTangy (3408549) | about 4 months ago | (#47139575)

Dont worry guys, its the LAPD. These guys keep their word.

I feel safer already.

But LAPD has plenty of experience with military (5, Interesting)

mmell (832646) | about 4 months ago | (#47139597)

hardware. I was a teenager when they got their first (used military) assault vehicle. They had the 80mm smoothbore cannon replaced with a battering ram. They "needed" it to serve no-knock warrants on hardened drug houses.

At what point did the LAPD cease to be a police organization and become a military one (owing allegiance to the Mayor and city of Los Angeles instead of the US federal government)? They use military hardware and tactics. In some instances, I can understand the need; now that criminals are using hardened installations, body armor, automatic/paramilitary weapons, there needs to be a capacity for law enforcement to respond in kind. What I find lacking is the oversight. As nearly as I can determine, the only thing reining in the private paramilitary organization created by (now retired) police chief Daryl Gates is often civilians with cell-phone cameras.

LAPD - "To Protect and Serve" has seemingly be replaced with "We'll treat you like a King".

Re:But LAPD has plenty of experience with military (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139815)

"We'll treat you like a King".

      Not like a King, like King.

But LAPD has plenty of experience with military (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47139865)

can't we all just learn to swim?

Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47140721)

A low cost RC plane ( low cost in comparison ) makes a great kinetic weapon against such a threat. Spot one flying about, just send one of your own up to intercept it.

Some of the better models include a turbofan engine that will push the aircraft to 200mph. The impact of the two would very likely remove the drone from the airspace at the cost of your own.

To help recover the costs you can cannibalize the high dollar optics and sensors from their aircraft :) ( or at least have fun with them )

A: Because it breaks the flow of a message. (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 4 months ago | (#47139975)

Q: Why is starting a comment in the Subject: field incredibly irritating?

Tough ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47140953)

... shit.

Re:A: Because it breaks the flow of a message. (1)

mmell (832646) | about 4 months ago | (#47141127)

A: I don't know. Why is starting a comment in the Subject: field incredibly irritating?

Re:But LAPD has plenty of experience with military (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 4 months ago | (#47140291)

At what point did the LAPD cease to be a police organization and become a military one (owing allegiance to the Mayor and city of Los Angeles instead of the US federal government)? They use military hardware and tactics.

At the same point at which the government ceased serving the people and started working for the moneyed interests. You know, before there was an LAPD. It's only become more noticeable.

Re:But LAPD has plenty of experience with military (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47141125)

"now that criminals are using hardened installations, body armor, automatic/paramilitary weapons, there needs to be a capacity for law enforcement to respond in kind."

No there doesnt.

I believe there is such a need. (0)

mmell (832646) | about 4 months ago | (#47141185)

I certainly don't want criminals to be better equipped than the police forces charged with controlling them. I'd just like to see a mechanism in place to intelligently determine and regulate when such hardware and tactics are deployed - and leaving LAPD to regulate itself is not an acceptable solution to this problem. Nor is oversight by the Mayor or municipal government sufficient to satisfy my requirements for oversight. I might accept state-level oversight, leaving the ultimate responsibility with the state's Governor - might.

Our federal government was initially created with three distinct divisions - executive, legislative and judicial - all of which are (theoretically) charged with oversight of the other two. Individual states are not necessarily designed to be self-regulating in this way; to the best of my knowledge, municipal governments are not at all organized to provide self-regulation. LAPD is not the only example - look at the city of Seattle's PD (which only grudgingly gave in to popular pressure to get rid of the drones, and still refuses to comply with state and federal oversight into abuses by Seattle PD).

I definitely want the cops better trained and better armed than the robbers. I also want someone not part of the PD or local government looking over their shoulder, making sure they don't set themselves up a private kingdom.

Narrow, Prescribed Uses (3, Insightful)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 4 months ago | (#47140335)

Like general surveillance over an unsuspecting public.

Obligatory Dr. Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47140381)

"If they're used at all, the remotely controlled aircraft will be called on only for "narrow and prescribed uses" that will be made clear to the public, the statement said."

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Promises Discretion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47140403)

"Promises Discretion" - Bull fucking shit. When has that ever been done? Besides, what they really want are Blackout Hquads.

Toys (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 4 months ago | (#47141423)

These things are toys. They are useless for anything except for a few minutes of amusement. Anyone with a catapult and a marble can shoot them down. Yes, I know, cause I have one.

maybe I've been working too much lately (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47141445)

somehow, I thought the headline was "LDAP gets some drones from Seattle" and I immediately thought about Microsoft Active Directory and maybe they open sourced some sort of extensions? sounds interesting.

clicked it and said "oh... just stupid police drone stuff."

Discretion? Yeah, right (3, Interesting)

russotto (537200) | about 4 months ago | (#47141527)

The only accurate way to talk about "discretion" when talking about the LAPD (or indeed any major police department and nearly every smaller one) is along with the phrase "abuse of".

Countermeasures (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47141785)

Well, stand on a tall building, toss a net when a drone goes by...

Anyone with money, such as dope dealers, can fly their own drones. Drag a piece of string around, intercept cop drones by getting the string into their propellers. Crash bang, and they won't be able to find the owner/operator of such crime drones.

And of course there is the good old shotgun approach. A new drone costs much more than the ammo.

Criminals can do their shady deals under a tree, or indoors. Drones won't help then. A drone can follow you around like a police chopper, but only for 10min before the batteries run out. And if it runs on gas, it runs too noisy for surveillance.

RESPONSE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47146845)

Somebody can and SHOULD shoot them down.

Da fuck? (1)

Optali (809880) | about 3 months ago | (#47148463)

What in fucks holy name oes the Linux Documentation Project need drones for?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?