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Aerial Drones To Help Cops In Miami

Zonk posted about 6 years ago | from the now-we-just-need-a-good-rigger dept.

Government 274

Catoonsis writes "Reuters is reporting that 'Miami police could soon be the first in the United States to use cutting-edge, spy-in-the-sky technology to beef up their fight against crime.' The police force is planning to make use of a small aerial drone, capable of hovering and quick maneuvers, to monitor the Miami-Dade area and alert officers of potential problems. The device, manufactured by Honeywell, is awaiting FAA approval before it can be put into use. This decision is just the latest chapter in the developing relationship between law enforcement and robotic assistants. 'U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been flying drones over the Arizona desert and southwest border with Mexico since 2006 and will soon deploy one in North Dakota to patrol the Canadian border as well. This month, Customs and Border Protection spokesman Juan Munoz Torres said the agency would also begin test flights of a modified version of its large Predator B drones, built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, over the Gulf of Mexico.'"

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274 comments

Car chases are going to get even better! (4, Funny)

binaryspiral (784263) | about 6 years ago | (#22871212)

I'm going to start tuning into more car chase coverage on the news if those drones are packing a pair of hellfires [wikipedia.org] !

Yes, yes... I'm sure they'll be unarmed, or at least the ones they show you up close.

Could be worse... (2, Funny)

Dareth (47614) | about 6 years ago | (#22871646)

It could be much worse than hellfire missiles. Just hope the drone doesn't use "helicopter batteries"!

Re:Car chases are going to get even better! (2, Informative)

jb68321 (1123905) | about 6 years ago | (#22871830)

I'm going to start tuning into more car chase coverage on the news if those drones are packing a pair of hellfires!

Yes, yes... I'm sure they'll be unarmed, or at least the ones they show you up close.
RTFA. The thing is only 18.5 lb when fully loaded with fuel, and that wiki you link to says Hellfires are at least 99lb, with >18lb warheads. The weight alone doesn't make sense... remember this thing flies/hovers.

More like "Landing airliner collides with drone. 400 dead. Including 10 on the ground. The drone was mistakenly armed with nuclear weapons and exploded when the drone crashed, killing 50,000 more".
I think dropping tear gas capsules would be a lot more likely than sending off missiles/nuclear arms anyways.

And this thing is "designed to fly between ground level and 500 ft," which tells me that it'll be rather easy to keep away from light aircraft. Sure, it can go up to 10,500 ft in optimal conditions, but what good would that do? That'd be an enormous amount of climbing time for such a small vehicle, wasting tons of fuel. Especially in the heat of Miami, they'll probably keep it as low as possible. A 747 or some such large passenger aircraft, weighing between 735,000 and 970,000 lb [wikipedia.org] , would probably suffer minimal damage if it ran into something like this anyways. I believe they still do the frozen chicken tests during engine design.

Here's a more informative video and website:
video [honeywell.com]
website [defense-update.com]

I hate the idea of this thing buzzing around, and it sure is ugly, but I think it's silly to think they'll throw it in front of light aircraft, which is the only way you'd really hit it... assuming only the police are using the drone. If some media/photography groups get a hold of this, sure it'll become a huge issue as it'll be everywhere and anywhere without warning. More likely it'll be infringing on your personal space rather than aircraft (ie back yard, parks, shopping areas). But given the crowd down in Miami, unless it's bullet-proof, it won't last very long.

Re:Car chases are going to get even better! (2, Funny)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 6 years ago | (#22872034)

"I hate the idea of this thing buzzing around, and it sure is ugly, but I think it's silly to think they'll throw it in front of light aircraft, which is the only way you'd really hit it... assuming only the police are using the drone. If some media/photography groups get a hold of this, sure it'll become a huge issue as it'll be everywhere and anywhere without warning. More likely it'll be infringing on your personal space rather than aircraft (ie back yard, parks, shopping areas). But given the crowd down in Miami, unless it's bullet-proof, it won't last very long."

Hmm...next item on ThinkGeek.com, personal anti-drone missle.

:-)

Seriously, I wonder how long it will be before they have to pass a special law making it against the law to shoot these things down?

I wonder how long it will be before some enterprising civilians hack into this thing and take over control? I'm sure it will have to be some type of radio controlled thing...should be easy to jam its signal, eh?

Finally, something to shoot at. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22872072)

Drone will look great mounted above my fireplace.

"Tragedy struck Miami this morning... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22871236)

...as an unmanned police drone that was following a suspected marijuana user, crash-landed in a public swimming pool."
Headline from the future?

Re:"Tragedy struck Miami this morning... (1)

iminplaya (723125) | about 6 years ago | (#22871362)

More like "Landing airliner collides with drone. 400 dead. Including 10 on the ground. The drone was mistakenly armed with nuclear weapons and exploded when the drone crashed, killing 50,000 more".

Re:"Tragedy struck Miami this morning... (3, Funny)

ubrgeek (679399) | about 6 years ago | (#22871576)

Great. Now we've got something else we need to accidently ship to Taiwan ... :)

Re:"Tragedy struck Miami this morning... (1)

AioKits (1235070) | about 6 years ago | (#22871870)

Great. Now we've got something else we need to accidently ship to Taiwan ... :)
Maybe we can accidently ship just the back halves of these and the Taiwanese can put them together with the nose cones and come up with something REALLY cool?

The reason the Predator flies only over desert (4, Insightful)

DustyShadow (691635) | about 6 years ago | (#22871244)

There's a reason why the Predator stays over the desert. Predators have crashed numerous times [airforcetimes.com] and do not have FAA approval to fly over populated areas in the US. Do we really think this thing from Honeywell that most definitely has less flight time than the Predator is air-worthy enough to fly over a super populated area like Miami? If this thing crashes and kills someone, I hope the city is sued into oblivion.

Re:The reason the Predator flies only over desert (3, Informative)

autocracy (192714) | about 6 years ago | (#22871294)

  1. The article states that this is "pending FAA approval"
  2. This is only like the Predator in that it is a drone. Since the thing is capable of hovering, it's not the same design at all. See picture in TFA.

One Critical Point (3, Informative)

autocracy (192714) | about 6 years ago | (#22871330)

The unit will weigh 14 pounds. This is close to the capsule weight permitted to be launched via balloon with no FAA control. (yay scientific ballooning).

Re:The reason the Predator flies only over desert (1)

Psmylie (169236) | about 6 years ago | (#22871300)

That's one of the things I was concerned about... What if the thing crashes? Sorry, but the worse case scenario that I can think of, this thing crashing into a busload of kids, is not worth a slight bump in police efficiency.

And that's not even considering the privacy concerns. Sure, I know that public is public and cameras are everywhere, but I think having something capable of following you around with a camera is a much bigger deal than static cameras.

Ooh, that brings up a question... how long until the paparazzi start deploying these things to automate their celebrity-stalking?

Re:The reason the Predator flies only over desert (1)

Psmylie (169236) | about 6 years ago | (#22871410)

I woulda read the article first, but I was having trouble pulling it up... it turns out it's only 14 pounds... so I guess a busload of kids wouldn't really be in danger, but individuals still would be. Something that big dropping on your head from even a few feet up could easily kill you.

Re:The reason the Predator flies only over desert (2, Interesting)

mea37 (1201159) | about 6 years ago | (#22871544)

"Something that big dropping on your head from even a few feet up could easily kill you."

So can a car, but I doubt we'll be outlawing those.

I'm not really convinced either way on the safety of this plan. The FAA will decide whether it's safe enough to approve, and while I don't know that I can trust their judgement 100%, it's far from the first time my safety has been impacted by their decisions.

So, pending more information, I'm not alarmed by the "crashing drones" issue.

Re:The reason the Predator flies only over desert (1)

bkr1_2k (237627) | about 6 years ago | (#22871934)

Cars very rarely, if ever, fall out of the sky because their datalink went dead, or they got a command sent to the wrong vehicle by accident. Several different species of UAV have crashed specifically for this reason, some by completely separate command vehicles and others by the same command vehicle doing training and missions simultaneously.

I'm not saying we should fear this because of safety concerns, but there are plenty of other reasons to keep this thing from flying.

Re:The reason the Predator flies only over desert (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22871754)

That's one of the things I was concerned about... What if the thing crashes? Sorry, but the worse case scenario that I can think of, this thing crashing into a busload of kids, is not worth a slight bump in police efficiency.

And that's not even considering the privacy concerns. Sure, I know that public is public and cameras are everywhere, but I think having something capable of following you around with a camera is a much bigger deal than static cameras.

Ooh, that brings up a question... how long until the paparazzi start deploying these things to automate their celebrity-stalking?
Crashes? Just wait till interested parties start designing and deploying anti-drone devices including drone hunting drones. Who would be interested parties? Freedom loving Americans for one, organized crime and plain old car thieves and drug dealers for more and of course the already tired of being hunted celebrities. For some reason this piece brought immediately to mind that very old cartoon image of the hillbilly looking up and shouting "Tarrrrrget practice, whoo hoo, tarrrrrget practice" and others appearing behind every tree, rock and blade of grass with their rifles raised and firing away. Wonder how long before individuals are barred from owning remote controled planes and helicopters or numerous items that are involved in the hobby?

Re:The reason the Predator flies only over desert (2, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | about 6 years ago | (#22871304)

The device featured in the article only weighs 18 pounds fully loaded. While this weight plummeting from a height is sufficient to kill anyone directly below, the risk is much less than that of a Predator drone crashing and burning on the streets of Miami.

I'm more concerned about plans to have drones of this sort fitted with Taser rounds, myself.

Re:The reason the Predator flies only over desert (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 years ago | (#22871662)

I'm more concerned about plans to have drones of this sort fitted with Taser rounds, myself.

I, for one, welcome our new ... oh to hell with it. This is too close for humor.

Re:The reason the Predator flies only over desert (4, Informative)

clampolo (1159617) | about 6 years ago | (#22871852)

It doesn't sound as bad as I thought from the title of the article. Seems they are just going to use it for tactical situations. So if there is a hostage situation, they can send up one of these things over the area to get a better view of the situation. Seems pretty useful: if you are sending in a SWAT team, you could quickly notify them if someone with a gun jumped out a window and is hiding in some bushes.

The only danger is that they decide to expand the program and start having these things all over the place. Or what if they use them to videotape people peacefully protesting to get a list of "trouble makers" for the FBI to keep tabs on.

Re:The reason the Predator flies only over desert (1)

vertinox (846076) | about 6 years ago | (#22871948)

Get rich quick in Miami:

1. Have friend hide in bushes with a BB gun
2. Have friend shoot drone
3. You run out underneath drone
4. ???? (Survive impact to head most likley)
5. Sue the city
6. Profit!!!

This is a special report from *** News: (1)

soccer_Dude88888 (1043938) | about 6 years ago | (#22871246)

"Ladies and gentlemen, uh, we've just lost the picture, but what we've seen speaks for itself. The City of Miami has apparently been taken over -- 'conquered' if you will -- by a master race of flying drones. It's difficult to tell from this vantage point whether they will consume the captive earth men or merely enslave them. One thing is for certain: there is no stopping them; the drones will soon be here. And I for one welcome our new robotic overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground crack houses."

"Run for the border" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22871252)

I just hope nobody decides to hack into the drone and play a Taco Bell commercial....

--
Heh, my confirm-you're-not-a-script image is "control." How appropriate.

Airspace. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22871262)

What legal protection of the airspace above my property do I have?

If a drone is flying 500' or 1000', can I shoot it down?

Why the Canadian border? (4, Insightful)

GroeFaZ (850443) | about 6 years ago | (#22871264)

To keep US citizens in?

A better question (1)

OrochimaruVoldemort (1248060) | about 6 years ago | (#22871332)

why not the mexican border?

Re:A better question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22871546)

RTFS:

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been flying drones over the Arizona desert and southwest border with Mexico since 2006"

Re:Why the Canadian border? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22871386)

To keep US citizens in?

Hey, the Berlin Wall was sold as a way of keeping those capitalist pig-dogs out of the glorious socialist paradise that was East Germany, wasn't it?

"Up here in space, I'm looking down on you.
My lasers trace - everything you do.
You think you've private lives? Think nothing of the kind.
There is no true escape, I'm watching all the time!

I'm made of metal,
My circuits gleam.
I am perpetual,
I keep the country clean.
I'm elected, electric spy!
I'm protected, electric eye!

Always in focus, you can't feel my stare.
I zoom into you, you don't know I'm there.
I take a pride in probing all your secret moves,
My tearless retina takes pictures that can prove.

(Electric eye, in the sky,
Feel my stare, always there...)

There's nothing you can do about it, develop and expose,
I feed upon your every thought, and so my power grows!
I'm elected, electric spy!
I'm protected, electric eye!
I'm elected,
Protected,
Detective,
Electric
Eye.

- Judas Priest, "Electric Eye", from Screaming for Vengeance, 1982.

What was once Cold War-era dystopian science fiction imagery for heavy metal bands is now domestic reality.

Re:Why the Canadian border? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 6 years ago | (#22871398)

To keep US citizens in?
Damn right! We don't want yer kind comin' in and stealin' our jobs and women and hockey tickets! We oughta put up a fence across the whole south border! With barbed wire! And land mines! In fact, forget the fence!

Re:Why the Canadian border? (5, Insightful)

Reziac (43301) | about 6 years ago | (#22871458)

THIS is what makes it so obvious that all this "Homeland Security" is primarily *against U.S. Citizens*, not against external threats:

Canada is our FRIEND. Canada has not offered us violence, or a flood of illegal aliens, or a torrent of criminals, or anything worse than the occasional pot smuggler or draft-dodger haven. Canada has been our defense partner for decades, and is consistently our best friend in the world. That Canada is sometimes called "the 51st State" is not entirely a joke.

There is absolutely NO reason that Canadian/U.S. border control should be anything but a smile and a wave whether you're entering or leaving either country -- much as it was through all of the previous century.

The current situation, requiring a passport to visit Canada, tells me that it is WE THE PEOPLE who are regarded as Enemies of the State, and that any border surveillance is designed to keep us in, as much as to keep threats out.

Doesn't *anyone* remember the Iron Curtain or the Berlin Wall??

 

Re:Why the Canadian border? (3, Insightful)

LoudMusic (199347) | about 6 years ago | (#22871570)

There is absolutely NO reason that Canadian/U.S. border control should be anything but a smile and a wave whether you're entering or leaving either country -- much as it was through all of the previous century.
It's pretty easy to get into Canada, especially from the north, and if you can get into Canada undetected it would then be pretty easy to get into the United States through Montana, North Dakota, or Minnesota.

The security departments aren't trying to protect the United States from Canadians - they're trying to protect the US from people who enter the US through Canada.

Have you ever played Risk, the board game? Just because you have an alliance with your neighbor doesn't mean some jackass can't storm through his territory and blitz your ass.

Re:Why the Canadian border? (4, Insightful)

MicktheMech (697533) | about 6 years ago | (#22871786)

It's pretty easy to get into Canada, especially from the north

A.k.a. the Arctic. A bit more difficult than the Rio Grande, not to mention the only threat around the Pole is Russia. That's why we have NORAD. Also, any argument along this line applies equally to Alaska. Furthermore, there are two major vectors for illegal immigrants into Canada. Smugglers from China (which also applies to the U.S. West coast) and believe it or not, illegals entering through the U.S.

The security departments aren't trying to protect the United States from Canadians - they're trying to protect the US from people who enter the US through Canada.

Have you ever played Risk, the board game? Just because you have an alliance with your neighbor doesn't mean some jackass can't storm through his territory and blitz your ass.

This is complete rubish. The only practical effect of the heightened security has been to cost money and jobs on both sides of the border. The only explanation for why it's done is because politicians can score easy points on their "security" record to tout in the next election. Unfortunately it seems to work because most Americans appear to believe that every border is the Mexican border.

Just to top it off, one of the biggest domestic issues here is how to deal with guns being smuggled in from the U.S.

Re:Why the Canadian border? (1)

Reziac (43301) | about 6 years ago | (#22871964)

"The security departments aren't trying to protect the United States from Canadians - they're trying to protect the US from people who enter the US through Canada."

So ... are you saying Canadians are slackers who'll let just anyone pass through their country?

And if DHS is trying to protect the U.S. from threats coming across the northern border -- why do *Americans* need passports to visit Canada??

It makes no sense from a security standpoint; it just makes it look like they're Doing Something. Anyone bent on entering the U.S. illegally from Canada can just invest in a rowboat and paddle across Rainy Lake. Or wait til it freezes in winter and walk across. (If you've ever been there, you'll know that trying to close off Rainy Lake would be about as effective as trying to secure Vietnam from Cambodia. Big lake, 10 bazillion islands, most heavily treed and large enough to be habitable, and no clear lines of sight anywhere.)

Re:Why the Canadian border? (1)

metalcoat (918779) | about 6 years ago | (#22871784)

As living in a small city on the border who used to visit Canada often, Ottawa less than an hour away. Passports are an extremely un-welcomed trouble brought to us.

However, many, and I mean many, people get through the borders here will little to no interference. The real problem is the US Border Patrol, stopping everyone on everyday travels. I was stopped 4 times traveling the same route all the same day. They constantly harass you and think they have the absolute right to do whatever the hell they want. It really pisses me off. Not to mention the brand new SUVs they get EVERY year and I'm not exaggerating. What really suprises me is the boats that they use to patrol the St. Lawrence River. Semi-old, and do not stop and question anyone.

One more thing, they seem to hate all Americans that go across the border. They associate our foreign policy with every person. Don't expect to go over there and someone not to try to fight you because "You Americans are all the same." Maybe it's just me, but the more you stick to not having fun you will not have a problem.

Re:Why the Canadian border? (1)

Adambomb (118938) | about 6 years ago | (#22871460)

If there was such a proposal, it would be in the guise of catching drug, alcohol, and tobacco smugglers. Theres a seriously huge industry in smuggling alcohol and tobacco into canada due to our massive taxes on the products (Smokers pay through the nose up here, based on the justification that since the government pays out the health claims, they need a return from the higher risk groups.

This makes for a huge amount of smokes and booze coming across the border to canada from the united states.

Then theres the inverse with drugs (for the most part, its bidirectional in cases) as there is a lot of canadian grown marijuana that gets sent down to the northern states from here in canada.

I can see law enforcement on both sides of the border being pleased with this idea. Being able to identify unauthorized crossings is a bit of a plus, the downside is if its effective the smugglers methodology will simply change.

I'm sure there is a wide variety of other ideas they have for the surveillance, theres certainly a lot of evil things that could arise from this, but i can see how people would want to try using the drones in this manner. All depends on who gets their hands on the control room.

Re:Why the Canadian border? (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | about 6 years ago | (#22871508)

the downside is if its effective the smugglers methodology will simply change.

If effective, then the changed methodology will cost the smugglers more - hence economics will reduce the supply.

Re:Why the Canadian border? (1)

Adambomb (118938) | about 6 years ago | (#22871614)

Really?

That's what the US thought when it created the lumber tarrifs concerning canadian lumber. All that happened is our lumber industry became more efficient and cost effective than ever, while creating sustainable lumber forests.

Its possible either way though, i'll grant you that.

Re:Why the Canadian border? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | about 6 years ago | (#22871742)

Huh.. I suppose that's why it's been harder and harder to get drugs. Wait, it hasn't been, but drug related violence is up? Hmm.

The only cost will be innocent people being killed.

Re:Why the Canadian border? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22871486)

Parent is insightful? Slashdot really has gone to the dailyKOS side.

Re:Why the Canadian border? (0)

Ngarrang (1023425) | about 6 years ago | (#22871528)

To keep US citizens in?
...maybe because terrorists are able to slip into the USA via that large border thingie between the USA and Canada unhindered?

Re:Why the Canadian border? (1)

Warll (1211492) | about 6 years ago | (#22871678)

Sure, after they get into Canada. Trust me, walking across the State's southern border >>>>> Swimming through arctic seas.
PS: By trust me I mean I am currently in Canada's hippie hospital system due to frostbite and hypothermia.

Re:Why the Canadian border? (1)

JrOldPhart (1063610) | about 6 years ago | (#22872012)

~Yea. All of those attacks, uuh, wait, the one attack. Well but, lets give up ALL of our freedom to avoid the possibility of another attack.~

What will we do differently than the builders of the Berlin Wall? The Great Wall of China?

Walls don't work. There is always a way past.

But fear does work to control the masses.

Re:Why the Canadian border? (1)

wiggles (30088) | about 6 years ago | (#22871672)

Because Canada has become one of the top exporters of Marijuana to the United States.

Re:Why the Canadian border? (2, Insightful)

JrOldPhart (1063610) | about 6 years ago | (#22872076)

Legalize it. Tax it.

Legal items are much more easily controlled. Just like the end of prohibition ended most of the black market for liquor.

Re:Why the Canadian border? (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | about 6 years ago | (#22871680)

To keep up appearances. They stated originally upped border security was in response to 911 to keep terrorists out. Since it was a stupid idea mexico was later said to be keeping the borber hoppers out. Canada was left with no real reason to spend billions of dollars on a fence. Hence it gets 1 drone to patrol a 8891km border.

Re:Why the Canadian border? (1)

greyphi (1127697) | about 6 years ago | (#22872128)

Because the current squads of Customs and Border Protection aircraft flying over our borders are more expensive than a similar setup using automated drones.

It's been ongoing for some time now.
http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2006/10/17/border-patrol.html [www.cbc.ca]

Haven't all terrorist attacks on US soil come from people with valid US citizenship?
But then I guess security is best established by pointing guns at your neighbours and telling them that you don't trust them.

Umm... (1)

Oxy the moron (770724) | about 6 years ago | (#22871272)

Shouldn't they have at least *attempted* to disguise it? I'm guessing that picture is going to show up on the local 6pm news. Anyone with a gun or large blunt object could put that thing out of commission somewhat easily... not like it'd be hard to pick it out against the skyline on a typical day.

Re:Umm... (1)

paintballer1087 (910920) | about 6 years ago | (#22871392)

with a gun or large blunt object could put that thing out of commission somewhat easily

"I didn't hit it that hard, it must've had some kind of self-destruct mechanism."

They didn't show the stealth attachment (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 6 years ago | (#22871558)

They'll hang a cardboard cutout from the bottom of it that looks like a seagull. Then nobody will be able to prove that the fuzzy thing they have on film is a UAV.

"Look! I taped it this time, there it is!"

"That's not a UAV, it's obviously a seagull."

"Well what's that thing on top?"

"It's a weather balloon"

"Tied to the seagull's back?"

"Yes, it's obviously part of a wildlife experiment in seagull migration"

"That's ridiculous!"

"And you mean to tell me that the government's spying on you for no reason? Man, you're paranoid."

"It's a UAV I tell you! It's out there in that exact spot EVERY DAY!"

"Pfft, you need to chill dude. Crack open a cold one and watch some TV. TV's good."

Re:Umm... (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 6 years ago | (#22871824)

Looking at the pictures, it doesn't appear to be a sustained flight drone. I think what they have in mind here is more like hopping form rooftop to rooftop rather than actually flying behind the suspect. The article says "capable" of hovering; would you ride in an airplane that was described by the media as "cabable" of flying?

As a Pilot i certaintly hope not.. (1)

cybrthng (22291) | about 6 years ago | (#22871316)

I wouldn't want to compete with airspace and or traffic control when these things are up in the air. Its difficult enough to fly vfr and see full size airplanes - try dodging something that isn't meant to be seen or heard? no thanks.

Re:As a Pilot i certaintly hope not.. (1)

bwak (1259494) | about 6 years ago | (#22871464)

Well from the description of a "hovering" craft, I doubt that it would really be a competitor for airspace. The only place where a plane would be likely to come even close to the things would be around airports and that would obviously be restricted for the drones.

Great (2)

tweak13 (1171627) | about 6 years ago | (#22871318)

So if I'm ever flying over Miami in a light plane I can look forward to trying to dodge robotic aircraft that could change direction with no advance warning and tear right through my aircraft. There's a reason you won't see UAV's getting FAA approval anytime soon, they are a serious hazard to air navigation. Visual navigation of aircraft requires just that, vision. Until they have a "see and avoid" system that's foolproof they aren't fit to share airspace where human lives are at stake.

Re:Great (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | about 6 years ago | (#22871432)

So if I'm ever flying over Miami in a light plane I can look forward to trying to dodge robotic aircraft ... aren't fit to share airspace where human lives are at stake.

What are you doing flying over populated areas in a > 1000 pound aircraft at the low altitudes this < 20 lb object is maneuvering at?

Re:Great (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 years ago | (#22871758)

What are you doing flying over populated areas in a > 1000 pound aircraft at the low altitudes this

Smuggling drugs.

Next question, please. (Didn't you ever watch Miami Vice?)

As a pilot myself... (1)

Nick Driver (238034) | about 6 years ago | (#22871904)

...I can say that as long as these things stay at or below about 300' AGL and completely stay 100% out of the airspace (at *any* height AGL) within a 4 nautical mile radius of any airport's traffic pattern, then they will not pose any substantial threat to most manned aircraft. The only exception being medivac helicopters, which can be flying low over any part of a populated area. A rule would need to be enforced that whenever a medivac chopper is in the area, the drones must be landed immediately, regardless of whatever mission they were currently flying... that mission would need to execute an immediate abort.

Now having said that, I do have suspicions that many law enforcement operators of such drones may have a disturbing propensity to disregard the rules of air safety whenever the rules get in the way of their wishes.

BTW, it is commonplace, and recommended, that a small general aviation aircraft be flown at 1000' AGL while flying over densely populated areas. The airspace from 500' AGL to 1000' AGL should be kept off-limits from drones, since that is a safety margin for small fixed-wing aircraft, and also typically where helicopters will be flying too.

Re:Great (5, Funny)

Walt Dismal (534799) | about 6 years ago | (#22871470)

Top 5 reasons to use drones over Miami:

5) Nude sunbathing: encouraged by Miami PD!

4) It's not noisy enough, we need small jets hovering outside the bedroom window at 3AM chasing pot smokers!

3) Proof of concept that Windows Vista, Mobile Edition is totally safe in unmanned drones, except when the DRM turns on!

2) Easier to catch 93-year men soliciting hookers!

and the #1 reason to use robotic drones:

1) Seagulls, eat leaden death!

Miami vice meats T2 (1)

asterix404 (1240192) | about 6 years ago | (#22871334)

I am thinking this will spawn a whole new movie/tv show genera, even more stunning then robots in disguise and AIs in a Pontiacs/vipers/misc cars. I will call it iVice and it will be good, really...

Proof! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22871384)

Daleks can climb stairs!

had a heart attack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22871394)

read that line as 'Anal Drones to Help Cops in Miami'

Is it just me? (3, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | about 6 years ago | (#22871426)

This is going to stop what kind of crime? Are they going to spot bank robbers in their hideout planning to rob banks? Are they going to stop illegals from going to work? What exactly are they planning to stop?

If it's drug crimes.. well, think of the children.... sigh

Oh wait!

"We intend to use this to benefit us in carrying out our mission," he added, saying the wingless Honeywell aircraft, which fits into a backpack and is capable of vertical takeoff and landing, seems ideally suited for use by SWAT teams in hostage situations or dealing with "barricaded subjects."
Clearly they are going to use it for drug busts... nice. Wonder where the police departments would spend all that money if they didn't have to fight drug crimes because some of them had been made legal? The espionage on private citizens elevates continuously in the war on drugs, war on crime, war on civil liberties without making anyone safer IMO. They already use helicopters, now this will put the capability of putting an eye in the sky in multiple locations without the expense of a helicopter and raise the danger level to ordinary citizens most likely.

Perhaps I'm cynical, but wasn't the last great advance for police forces the taser? Yep, that worked out pretty good, don't you think?

Re:Is it just me? (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | about 6 years ago | (#22871488)

wasn't the last great advance for police forces the taser? Yep, that worked out pretty good, don't you think?

Yeah, they should just go back to using one-ounce of lead at high velocity to solve all their problems.

Re:Is it just me? (1)

Psmylie (169236) | about 6 years ago | (#22871708)

"Perhaps I'm cynical, but wasn't the last great advance for police forces the taser?"

Yeah, except the fact that people can still suffer injury or death from tasers, and that the percieved reduced risk with tasers makes police more likely to use them, even in situations that don't really mandate use of force (don't taze me, bro!) and... oh, wait. You were using sarcasm :)

I agree with you on every point, actually. I'd love to see drugs legalized. Not because I want to use them (I don't, and I won't... I don't like them) but simply because I don't see why it's anyone's business what I put in my body in my own home. In public, while driving or whatever is another deal all together. But we already have laws that cover that (DUI), and that is more than sufficient, in my opinion.

Make drugs legal, regulate them and tax them, use the savings from police enforcement to educate people on the negative side-effects of drugs, and use the tax money to pay for treatment for addicts. You'll get an immediate reduction in crime (meaning more prison space for REAL criminals), less power for organized crime, and nice new revenue streams to treat those that need it... but the only money that should go to the addicts is the money from the drug taxes. Not a single penny from those who abstain should go to support those people.

Re:Is it just me? (1)

jb68321 (1123905) | about 6 years ago | (#22872120)

This is going to stop what kind of crime? Are they going to spot bank robbers in their hideout planning to rob banks? Are they going to stop illegals from going to work? What exactly are they planning to stop?

Where I'm from, helicopters are used all the time to prevent police chases (ie tell other cops where to cut the runaway car off) and track criminals running on foot away from crimes (burglaries, hit-and-runs accidents, etc etc). There are plenty of times that criminals run! In fact, they almost always do. And then there's the chase through the neighborhoods and watching the canals/lakes for hours via helicopter. Helicopters are *much* louder than this little thing, with what looks like a 2-stroke model helicopter-type engine.

And the other problem with using manned helicopters in these situations is that, especially at night or in poor weather, this puts the pilots (and people below) at risk. They're flying outside of the Dead Man's Curve, meaning that they cannot safely autorotate to the ground if something happens to their aircraft (say, engine failure). Plus, full helicopters and pilots are more expensive, as I said louder, and take much longer to get to a scene than a portable MAV like this one.

I see all sorts of benefits for the police from my "cop's daughter" perspective. And trust me, a lot more happens in Miami than just simple drug busts! Look up the murder rate sometime, or how about that missing children number.

And one final thing... when did everyone start referring to illegal aliens as "illegals"? It drives me mad. As if they're not people or something! "Aliens" is bad enough, etc, but plenty of my friends growing up either were or had parents who were illegally here (Miami area). And they've got tons of money, own homes & cars, and contribute to society just as everyone else here does. They'd even pay taxes if you'd give them the chance!

And so beings the drone wars (4, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 6 years ago | (#22871482)

If these drones become wide-spread, I predict that any sophisticated "bad guys" - i.e. drug runners and coyotes - will quickly get their own drones.

Maybe they won't be equipped with cameras, they'll probably be just run of the mill R/C helicopters. But they will be sufficient to take out any drones within visible range - just crash the R/C helicopter into the police drone to take it out of commission. If you miss, you just come back for another pass. Worst case, you keep the drone busy dodging the R/C helicopter instead of watching the goings on and best case you get a firey explosion in the sky. It will only take a few $500 R/C helicopter versus $50,000+ drone encounters before the police run out of drones.

Altitude (1)

wiredog (43288) | about 6 years ago | (#22871606)

How high do the R/C craft fly? How high are the drones flying? How hard is it to fly an r/c aircraft into a drone, given parallax?

Re:And so beings the drone wars (2, Interesting)

ChrisA90278 (905188) | about 6 years ago | (#22871818)

Why bother with an R/C aircraft? A hunting rifle with a scope would kill a drone a lot easier. A more sophisticaled attack would be to jam the drones's radio reciever so it could not be commanded from the ground.

Actually I think these will be used just like helicopers are used but maybe at 10X less cost.

Re:And so beings the drone wars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22872104)

Why bother with an R/C aircraft? A hunting rifle with a scope would kill a drone a lot easier.
In the city, gunshots will probably attract attention to the man firing the rifle.
An r/c copter may attract attention too - but it won't be to the operator.

Just a bad idea from a safty standpoint (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 6 years ago | (#22871510)

The first time one of these things smacks a commercial jet, it's going to be the end of this madness. The lawyers will have a field day, and the city's tax dollars will pay out millions. Oh, they will tell you there are "safeguards" and so on. But it will happen.

Re:Just a bad idea from a safty standpoint (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 6 years ago | (#22871760)

Very true. Eventually, drones will be equipped with ADS-B (the new air traffic control system that relies on GPS for every aircraft in the area to announce it's position to every other aircraft in the area and the ground) and this won't be as big of a problem (once you can be completely aware of your surroundings, such as with what ADS-B provides, you can make decisions based on that data with software).

http://www.adsb.gov/ [adsb.gov]

Wrong Relationship (1)

Ben Justice (1241194) | about 6 years ago | (#22871594)

Actually, it's not the "latest chapter in the developing relationship between law enforcement and robotic assistants". It's the latest chapter in the developing relationship between U.S. lawmakers and their corporate benefactors. --bj

Deja vu all over again (3, Insightful)

More_Cowbell (957742) | about 6 years ago | (#22871632)

I thought this sounded [slashdot.org] a bit familiar. [slashdot.org]

Has anyone heard any news on the LA ones, success or failure?

Personally, I'm not a big fan of more surveillance, though it seems inevitable. What politician (local or national) would stand up and say more cameras in (fill in the blank - schools, roads, public places, etc) is a bad idea. I mean it's all for our safety right? Think of the children and all that?

At least with the stationary cameras you know when you are being monitored.

Take 'em Out (1)

PingXao (153057) | about 6 years ago | (#22871636)

I don't know how but I would hope responsible citizens would wake the fuck up and start to see the actual machinery of a police state for what it is. These drones are HUGELY expensive. They're flying them at ridiculous cost over the southwest to find and track illegal aliens? Are you fucking kidding me? That money could be better spent actually enforcing the laws that are on the books against employers hiring them in the first place. The cognitive dissonance here is mind-boggling. It proves the point that these drones are subject to mission creep like every other super expensive tech toy you give to the government. Wake up people. These drones will extend their control over your lives over the next few decades unless responsible people start saying, "No." All it takes is one evildoer inside the government (not like that's ever happened before) to flip a switch, and all of a sudden these things are looking at YOU because, after all, if you're innocent what do you have to hide? Right, Governor Spitzer?

In use in Amsterdam (2, Informative)

Teun (17872) | about 6 years ago | (#22871648)

I don't want to melt an unsuspecting blogger's server so I'll just say search for Amsterdam police uses drone.

In the blog is a link to a BBC clip [bbc.co.uk] showing the drone like used in Amsterdam.
It is build by "Microdrones" in Germany and costs around $2,000.

Drone arrest.. (1)

darkob (634931) | about 6 years ago | (#22871724)

I wonder when will first "drone arrest" happend in the USA? In Iraq I remember some Iraqi army units surrendered to the overfying US drone so there's obviously a clear precedent.

Use the right Buckshot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22871750)

I think a 12 gauge 3.5" magnum load of #1 buckshot would be optimal for harvesting our new electronically controlled game! The #1 shot would give excellent penetration through the light plastic, and a greater probability of scoring a hit over heaver loads like #00 shot.

I just have one question: When does UAV season start?

PULL!!

Dogfights (1)

UberHoser (868520) | about 6 years ago | (#22871782)

How long will it take for the 'other' side to come up with their version of Armed RC choppers & planes..

Think of a RC Airwolf..

'Cue music'

Triple-A (1)

IdeaMan (216340) | about 6 years ago | (#22871992)

We need AAA for these things.

They would show up on radar, so load up that shotgun with an explosive slug and slave it to radar prediction.
For bonus points put enough smarts in the slug to receive its time delay from the radar.

With current electronics miniaturization, wouldn't this whole package fit in a backpack?

It'd be easy to test this: Just take it out during duck hunting season and come home with 100 birds hehe.

There are two ways to do this: you could project both an aim point onto a HUD, or you could use servos to aim the gun.
The HUD is probably smaller and less weight, and useful for any weapon you can strap an aimpoint sensor on. The servo approach is heavier but more reliable and accurate.

Hmmm, I wonder if this would enable foot soldiers taking out stuff like hand grenades and mortars.

The Real Danger (1)

AustenHeller (1262410) | about 6 years ago | (#22871834)

I don't think aerial drones are really going to change law enforcement significantly. Sure, it'll make their job easier and cheaper, but it's not really letting cops do more than they're already capable of doing.

The real threat of this type of technology is the atmosphere they create. "Beware the flying cameras! We're always up there, watching you... Don't mess up." That culture of fear is what really robs us of our civil liberties.

Bright future of UAVs/MAVs (1)

anushandhan (1262764) | about 6 years ago | (#22871958)

It wasn't very clear from the article how this thing manages to fly and what is its endurance. From the images included it looks like a ducted rotor/fan based design. UAVs like these certainly provide better situational awareness for police/law enforcement operations by providing "over the hill" reconnaissance.

DARPA has been pumping in lot of money to Universities and research agencies for development of MAVs (Micro Air Vehicles), vehicles of much smaller dimension than the drone mentioned in this article, with endurance of at least 30 minutes. Some of these proposed MAVs are trying to mimic bird or insect flight mechanisms to attain comparable efficiency in flying slowly or hovering at one position, which is the primary requirement for the possible missions to be undertaken by these machines. Certainly in future we are going to see many such UAVs/MAVs manning the city/battlefield air-space for one reason or the other.

ACLU to the rescue? (0, Flamebait)

Bryansix (761547) | about 6 years ago | (#22872002)

Of course the ACLU has to interject that this is somehowe an invasion of privacy. Nevermind that what happens in public is public information. I think the ACLU actually wants to make criminals lives easier.

Seriously! (1)

eheldreth (751767) | about 6 years ago | (#22872068)

It's like some one ate 1984 for lunch and through up on the constitution. Right to privacy my A$$. What's next an unmanned drone with an RFID reader so they can process your chip. Forget papers please, it'll be show me your arm. The police are not a military force and should not be given this type of power and equipment. It's an affront to a free society and if the people of Florida stand for this it will be a dark chapter in our nations history. Alright, sorry for the rant. I feel much better now, really. Hey who are those guys in black suits at my door.

Long Live The Priest (1)

xtracto (837672) | about 6 years ago | (#22872078)

Up here in space
Im looking down on you
My lasers trace
Everything you do

You think youve private lives
Think nothing of the kind
There is no true escape
Im watching all the time

Im made of metal
My circuits gleam
I am perpetual
I keep the country clean

Im elected electric spy
Im protected electric eye

Always in focus
You cant feel my stare
I zoom into you
You dont know Im there

I take a pride in probing all your secret moves
My tearless retina takes pictures that can prove

Im made of metal
My circuits gleam
I am perpetual
I keep the country clean

Im elected electric spy
Im protected electric eye

Electric eye, in the sky
Feel my stare, always there
Theres nothing you can do about it
Develop and expose
I feed upon your every thought
And so my power grows

Im made of metal
My circuits gleam
I am perpetual
I keep the country clean

Im elected electric spy
Im protected electric eye

Protected. detective. electric eye
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