- From io9:
In the first trailer for Tom Cruise’s post-apocalyptic film Oblivion, Cruise is a drone repairman walking the shattered remains of Earth. But as he explores the planet humanity was forced to leave behind, he finds something he never expected to find, something that makes him question everything he’s been told about the conflict that destroyed the Earth.
- CNN Money’s look inside Israel’s drones:
- Newly Released Drone Records Reveal Extensive Military Flights in US (EFF):
The capabilities of these drones can be astounding. According to a recent Gizmodo article, the Puma AE (“All Environment”) drone can land anywhere, “either in tight city streets or onto a water surface if the mission dictates, even after a near-vertical ‘deep stall’ final approach.” Another drone, Insitu’s ScanEagle, which the Air Force has flown near Virginia Beach, sports an “inertial-stabilized camera turret, [that] allows for the tracking of a target of interest for extended periods of time, even when the target is moving and the aircraft nose is seldom pointed at the target.” Boeing’s A160 Hummingbird (see photo above), which the Air Force has flown near Victorville, California, is capable of staying in the air for 16-24 hours at a time and carries a gigapixel camera and a “Forester foliage-penetration radar” system designed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). (Apparently, the Army has had a bunch of problems with the Hummingbird crashing and may not continue the program.)
Perhaps the scariest is the technology carried by a Reaper drone the Air Force is flying near Lincoln, Nevada and in areas of California and Utah. This drone uses “Gorgon Stare” technology, which Wikipedia defines as “a spherical array of nine cameras attached to an aerial drone . . . capable of capturing motion imagery of an entire city.” This imagery “can then be analyzed by humans or an artificial intelligence, such as the Mind’s Eye project” being developed by DARPA. If true, this technology takes surveillance to a whole new level.
Another scary aspect of the Air Force’s drone program is the number of times Predator and Reaper drones have crashed. The Washington Post wrote about crashes at civilian airports abroad a few days ago, and the Air Force presents some statistics on actual incidents and the potential for crashes in New Mexico in a document titled “Operational Risk Analysis of Predator/Reaper Flight Operations in a Corridor between Cannon AFB and Melrose Range (R-5104A).” This document notes that “8 incidents [involving Predators] occurred over a period of 79,177 flying hours.” (p. 8). A risk analysis table from the report is below.
- Police drone crashes into police SWAT team (SALON):
The Montgomery County sheriff’s office in Texas had planned a big photo opportunity with their newly acquired surveillance drone. It all went horrible wrong when, according to the Examiner, “[The] prototype drone was flying about 18 feet off the ground [and] it lost contact with the controller’s console on the ground. It’s designed to go into an auto shutdown mode … but when it was coming down, the drone crashed into the SWAT team’s armored vehicle.” (The SWAT team had suited up, armored vehicle on hand, for the purpose of the photo.)
“Not only did the drone fail, and not only did it crash, it literally crashed into the police. It’s no wonder we’re not able to find a video of this spectacular publicity failure,” noted Gizmodo.The CRP–Hearst report explicitly listed collisions as a concern insufficiently addressed by lawmakers in the so-called “drone caucus,” who have pushed an agenda to hurry drones into the hands of police departments and private corporations.
- California Eyeing Drone Surveillance (WIRED):
Alameda County is moving to become one of dozens of local law enforcement agencies nationwide to deploy the unmanned crafts. Some of the agencies include the Seattle Police Department, Miami-Dade Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The move comes three months after the Government Accountability Office warned Congress that its push for drones to become commonplace in U.S. airspace fails to take into account privacy, security and even GPS jamming and spoofing. The GAO, Congress’ research arm, was responding to the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, signed by President Barack Obama in February, which among other things requires the Federal Aviation Administration to accelerate drone flights in U.S. airspace.
Alameda County, in the Bay Area, is home to Oakland, the scene of violent Occupy protests last year.
Weeks ago, the sheriff told a local NBC affiliate that it was a “no-brainer” when it came to deploying a drone.
- Leap and LabVIEW Controlled Quadrotor:
- Jame “New Aesthetic” Bridle gives us The Drone Vernacular:
In the second week at the VFL, I’ve been continuing modelling and printing for the final residency product, which should be completed next week.
I’ve also been looking at the ways in which drones manifest and are visualised, used and normalised in the world. (This is as good a time as any to note that I’m specifically interested in military drones, not the DIY type, quadrocopters, civilian drones etc – although there are clearly interesting connections to be articulated between these, and the designation of civilian is also problematic.)