Video: Air Force’s Killer Bugbots Attack

The U.S. military has been working for a while on tiny, buglike drones – to serve as miniature flying spies, Defense Department robot-makers say.

But this video, from the Air Force Research Laboratory, shows that the military is also interested in turning these “Micro Air Vehicles,” or MAVs, into biomorphic weapons that can lie in secret for weeks at a time – and then strike an adversary with lethal accuracy.

“Individual MAVs may perform direct-attack missions,” says the video’s gravelly voiced narrator. “They can be equipped with incapacitation chemicals, combustible payloads or even explosives for precision-targeting capability.”

“Individual MAVs may perform direct-attack missions,” says the video’s gravelly voiced narrator. “They can be equipped with incapacitation chemicals, combustible payloads or even explosives for precision-targeting capability.”

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Pakistan army practises shooting drone aircraft

Pakistani soldiers practised shooting at pilotless “drone” aircraft on Friday, the military said a day after the government lodged a protest with the U.S. ambassador over drone missile strikes in Pakistani territory.

Anti-aircraft guns and short-range surface-to-air missiles were used during the exercise conducted at a desert range near the city of Muzaffargarh in the central Pubjab province.

“The elements of Army Air Defence demonstrated their shooting skills by targeting the drones flying at different altitudes,” the military said in a statement.

Air defence commander Lieutenant-General Ashraf Saleem praised the “precision and agility” of the gunners.

Pakistan is bristling over a series of missile strikes by U.S. drones targeting al Qaeda and Taliban militants in the lawless tribal regions along the Afghan border in recent weeks.

The U.S. forces have carried out more than 20 such drone attacks in the last three months, reflecting U.S. impatience over militants from Pakistan fuelling the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and fears that al Qaeda fighters in northwest Pakistan could plan attacks in the West.

A U.S. commando raid on September 3 led to a diplomatic storm, and there has not been any subsequent incursion by ground troops.

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Game Controllers Driving Drones, Nukes

War really is getting more like a video game, as hardware and software from the gaming industry is increasingly being adopted for military use. The latest sign of this appeared at the Farnborough air show this week, where arms-maker Raytheon showed off its new Universal Control System for robotic aicraft. It’s based on the same technology that drives Halo and Splinter Cell:

“Gaming companies have spent millions to develop user-friendly graphic interfaces, so why not put them to work on UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles]?” says Mark Bigham, business development director for Raytheon’s tactical intelligence systems. “The video-game industry always will outspend the military on improving human-computer interaction.”

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Pentagon chief seeks more drones in Iraq

WASHINGTON, April 21 (Reuters) – The U.S. military needs more drones and equipment to collect intelligence and conduct surveillance in Iraq despite a big boost in those capabilities since 2001, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Monday.

But Gates said he has hit resistance inside the Pentagon and indicated that the Air Force’s desire to use pilots for its missions has kept the Defense Department from employing more effective and lower cost unmanned aircraft.

“I’ve been wrestling for months to get more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets into the theater,” Gates told officers at the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base.

“Because people were stuck in old ways of doing business, it’s been like pulling teeth,” he said. “While we’ve doubled this capability in recent months, it is still not good enough.”

Gates said he formed a task force last week to quickly find new ways to get those capabilities to Iraq and Afghanistan. He said the group’s findings may force the Air Force to replace pilots with unmanned aircraft on some missions.

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Pilotless surveillance aircraft are being trialled across Britain

Nicked by PC Drone, robot spy in the sky
Pilotless surveillance aircraft are being trialled across Britain, heralding a new era in the policing of our roads, writes Mark Harris

Speeding tickets from the sky might sound like science fiction, but the robot spy-plane technology that is used in the war on terror in Afghanistan may soon be coming to British roads.

Under a government-funded scheme, a new generation of pilotless drones could be patrolling motorways within the next five years. Although they will initially use cameras to record and monitor accidents and provide traffic-flow data, they have the potential to spot speeding offences and identify reckless or uninsured drivers.

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Forest Service buys UAVs to spy on public

U.S. FOREST SERVICE FIELDING FLEET OF DRONES – Law Enforcement Wants “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” Hovering Above Forests

Washington, DC – The U.S. Forest Service has purchased pilot-less aircraft to provide day and night photo reconnaissance for its law enforcement program, according to agency records released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The two “unmanned aerial vehicles,” or drones, may represent the beginnings of wider conversion of military robotic technology for civilian uses.

The two “Sky Seers” were obtained by the Forest Service on December 10, 2007 at a cost of $100,000 from Chang Industries, Inc. of La Verne, California. The package includes one “day version” and one “night version” of the drone, together with a “Pan/tilt thermal camera” to record heat signatures at night.

A March 12, 2007 purchase request from the Forest Service Law Enforcement & Investigations (LE&I) program states it “has been monitoring and evaluating UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] intermittently since 1997, when their use was considered in support of Operation Linebacker, a border enforcement initiative.” While this “Sole Source Request” details desired equipment specifications, the Forest Service could produce no documents spelling out what they want to use drones for or why pilot-less craft are preferred, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from PEER.

The drones purchase took place shortly after Forest Service LE&I spent $600,000 buying tasers for its entire enforcement staff, without any guidelines or training program. The tasers are still sitting in storage cartons. After PEER revealed the taser fiasco, LE&I staff told PEER about the drones and suggested a records request in order to validate staff concerns that the purchase –

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Pilots Yanked Out of Planes for Drone Duty


How bad do they need drones in Iraq and Afghanistan? So bad, the Air Force is yanking pilots out of old-school planes, and sticking them on drone duty, instead.

For the past several years, there’s been a “300% annual increase” in battlefield commanders’ request in video from robot aircraft. Drone-makers – and military paper-pushers – are struggling to keep up with the demand. Defense Secretary Gates has ordered that the Air Force send all available Predator unmanned aerial vehicles into action. Air Force officials whined about the non-stop 13-hour days their pilots were clocking (in Nevada, not Iraq). But ultimately, the number of Predator flights was doubled.

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Spy-in-the-sky drone sets sights on Miami

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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.

A small pilotless drone manufactured by Honeywell International (HON.N), capable of hovering and “staring” using electro-optic or infrared sensors, is expected to make its debut soon in the skies over the Florida Everglades.

If use of the drone wins Federal Aviation Administration approval after tests, the Miami-Dade Police Department will start flying the 14-pound (6.3 kg) drone over urban areas with an eye toward full-fledged employment in crime fighting.

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Pentagon’s Cyborg Insects All Grown Up

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For years, now, Pentagon-backed researchers have been trying to create cyborg insects that could serve as living, remote-controlled spies. The problem is, those modified bugs never survived long enough to be useful. Now, Georgia Tech professor Robert Michelson says he’s managed to get the bug ‘borgs to live into adulthood.

DARPA’s Hi-MEMS program aims to implant place micro-mechanical systems [MEMS] “inside the insects during the early stages of metamorphosis,” the agency explains. That way, as the bugs get older, tissues grow around — and fuse together with — the tiny machines.

Flight International reports that, in his latest work, Michelson truncated a Manduca moth’s thorax “to reduce its mass.” Then he put in “a MEMS component… where abdominal segments would have been, during the larval stage.”

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