NEW YORK — Fighter pilot Mary “Missy” Cummings saw it coming while landing her F/A-18 supersonic jet on a Navy aircraft carrier — the world-changing disruption barreling toward the present.
Instead of landing the multi-million-dollar machine on the small deck of the ship herself in the 1990s, a computer accomplished the tricky feat for her.
“Here the computer was taking off better than I could, landing itself better than I could and doing the mission better than I ever could,” Cummings said Tuesday during the Wired Disruptive by Design business conference. “It was really humiliating. That was what used to make me better than everyone else.”
Eventually Cummings took a step back, told herself the heyday of fighter pilots was over and joined the robots. She’s now an aeronautics professor at MIT working to tackle the monotonous work of flying, farming and other industries with autonomous drones.
It’s the most benign thing in the world. In fact, it’s a concept whose time has come and it will only help protect us and keep us safe. Naturally, there’s nothing to worry about because there won’t be any abuse of the technology. After all, spy drones are already being used around the U.S.; what’s the problem with adding tens of thousands more?
In case you didn’t know it – and you probably didn’t – Congress, with little fanfare, passed an FAA reauthorization bill last week President Obama is expected to sign into law that will make it much easier for the government to put scores of unmanned spy drones into American skies.
Not only that the legislation authorizes the Federal Aviation Administration to develop regulations for the testing and licensing of commercial drones by 2015. If the law takes full effect, it is believed as many as 30,000 drones could be hovering over the U.S. by 2020.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A bill to speed the nation’s switch from radar to an air traffic control system based on GPS technology, and to open U.S. skies to unmanned drone flights within four years, received final congressional approval Monday.
The bill passed the Senate 75-20, despite labor opposition to a deal cut between the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House on rules governing union organizing elections at airlines and railroads. The House had passed the bill last week, and it now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.
Government Withholds Information on Drone Flight Authorizations
San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit today against the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), demanding data on certifications and authorizations the agency has issued for the operation of unmanned aircraft, also known as drones.
Drones are designed to carry surveillance equipment – including video cameras, infrared cameras and heat sensors, and radar – that can allow for sophisticated and almost constant surveillance. They can also carry weapons. Traditionally, drones have been used almost exclusively by military and security organizations. However, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection uses drones inside the United States to patrol the U.S. borders, and state and local law enforcement are increasingly using unmanned aircraft for investigations into things like cattle rustling, drug dealing, and the search for missing persons.
Unmanned aircraft from an Air Force base in North Dakota help local police with surveillance, raising questions that trouble privacy advocates.
Reporting from Washington — Armed with a search warrant, Nelson County Sheriff Kelly Janke went looking for six missing cows on the Brossart family farm in the early evening of June 23. Three men brandishing rifles chased him off, he said.
Janke knew the gunmen could be anywhere on the 3,000-acre spread in eastern North Dakota. Fearful of an armed standoff, he called in reinforcements from the state Highway Patrol, a regional SWAT team, a bomb squad, ambulances and deputy sheriffs from three other counties.
He also called in a Predator B drone.
As the unmanned aircraft circled 2 miles overhead the next morning, sophisticated sensors under the nose helped pinpoint the three suspects and showed they were unarmed. Police rushed in and made the first known arrests of U.S. citizens with help from a Predator, the spy drone that has helped revolutionize modern warfare.
But that was just the start. Local police say they have used two unarmed Predators based at Grand Forks Air Force Base to fly at least two dozen surveillance flights since June. The FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration have used Predators for other domestic investigations, officials said.
“We don’t use [drones] on every call out,” said Bill Macki, head of the police SWAT team in Grand Forks. “If we have something in town like an apartment complex, we don’t call them.”
The drones belong to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which operates eight Predators on the country’s northern and southwestern borders to search for illegal immigrants and smugglers. The previously unreported use of its drones to assist local, state and federal law enforcement has occurred without any public acknowledgment or debate.
CONROE, Texas — A Houston area law enforcement agency is prepared to launch an unmanned drone that could someday carry weapons, Local 2 Investigates reported Friday.
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Conroe paid $300,000 in federal homeland security grant money and Friday it received the ShadowHawk unmanned helicopter made by Vanguard Defense Industries of Spring.
A laptop computer is used to control the 50-pound unmanned chopper, and a game-like console is used to aim and zoom a powerful camera and infrared heat-seeking device mounted on the front.
“To be in on the ground floor of this is pretty exciting for us here in Montgomery County,” Sheriff Tommy Gage said.
He said the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) could be used in hunting criminals who are running from police or assessing a scene where SWAT team officers are facing an active shooter.
Gage said it will also be deployed for criminal investigations such as drug shipments.
“We’re not going to use it to be invading somebody’s privacy. It’ll be used for situations we have with criminals,” Gage said.
It is the stuff of science fiction: a drone flies hundreds of feet overhead, rapidly snapping images and collating them into a 3D model of your face, verifying your identity, recording your social interactions and even creating threat assessments of yourself and those you associate with.
Unfortunately, this is not science fiction. This is real technology being developed as you read this under several military contracts, all paid for by the American taxpayer adding on to the black hole of debt which continues to grow unabated thanks to unnecessary spending like this.
What is worse is that like most military technology, we can expect this new paradigm of war to bleed into domestic police activities and so-called homeland security operations.
The new, heavily-armed ShadowHawk can track perpetrators using normal or infrared light.
Forget the idea that weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are only for military operations in wars fought in far off lands. Soon they’ll begin setting their sights on criminals within our borders. And they’ll be packing heat, not the long-range missiles of the X-47B, but with up close and personal stun guns, 12-gauge shotguns and, believe it or not, grenade launchers.
The ShadowHawk is the seven-foot, 50-lb copter that is the toy-sized dealer of destruction from Texas-based Vanguard Defense Industries. The copter is the result of three years of development. If being tased from above sounds frightening to you, I suggest you cease all criminal activities now (simply staying indoors is an option). There’s a good chance ShadowHawk’s spine tingling buzz could be heard approaching a city near you. As a sign of new law enforcement tactics to come, the Sheriff’s Office of Montgomery County, Texas was recently awarded a grant by the Department of Homeland Security for a squadron of ShadowHawks. Montgomery County’s Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel is psyched. “We are very excited about the funding and looking forward to placing the equipment into the field. Both my narcotics and SWAT units have been looking at numerous ways to deploy it and I absolutely believe it will become a critical component on all SWAT callouts and narcotics raids and emergency management operations.”
The Department of Homeland Security grant is just the latest indication that the US is taking the military’s lead – with over 7,000 drones in the skies of Iraq and Afghanistan – and using drones as a key tactical tool. In 2009 a surveillance drone called the Wasp was used during a SWAT raid in Austin, Texas. The Wasp climbed to 400 feet and beamed realtime video of a house in which an armed drug dealer was hiding. After the team had confirmed that there were no unforeseen dangers lurking in the backyard, they stormed the house and arrested the suspect. Drones are also helping the US to secure its borders against illegal immigration and drug trafficking. Just a few months ago the Obama administration began sending drones to Mexico to gather intelligence and help in the country’s war on drugs.
Five years and $4 million later, AeroVironment has developed what it calls the world’s first hummingbird spy drone.
Matt Keennon, program director at AeroVironment, demonstrates a tiny, drone aircraft known as the ‘nano-hummingbird,’ during a briefing at the company’s facility in Simi Valley, Calif., Friday, Feb. 25, 2011. With a 6.5-inch wing span, the remote-controlled hummingbird plane weighs less than an AA battery and can fly at speeds of up to 11 mph, propelled only by the flapping of its two wings. It can climb and descend vertically, fly sideways, forward and backward, as well as rotate clockwise and counterclockwise, and hover.… Read more »
(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
SAN DIEGO – You’ll never look at hummingbirds the same again.
The Pentagon has poured millions of dollars into the development of tiny drones inspired by biology, each equipped with video and audio equipment that can record sights and sounds.
They could be used to spy, but also to locate people inside earthquake-crumpled buildings and detect hazardous chemical leaks.
The smaller, the better.
Besides the hummingbird, engineers in the growing unmanned aircraft industry are working on drones that look like insects and the helicopter-like maple leaf seed.
Researchers are even exploring ways to implant surveillance and other equipment into an insect as it is undergoing metamorphosis. They want to be able to control the creature.
Jan. 28 2011 — In 2007, it was revealed by reporters in Texas that unmanned drones were being used in supposed border control operations. We detailed that report with supporting evidence that drones clearly were being used inland away from border control functions.
Recently, an article from Miami-Dade announced the arrival of a 16-pound micro drone T-Hawk surveillance model designed by Honeywell. The video below shows a more detailed view of the capabilities of this surveillance drone. Keep in mind, this is only what is being announced at the moment, which has nothing to do with the massive amount of R&D that has being going on to reduce the size of flying surveillance. There have even been reports about “wasp” drones to sniff out Wi-FI networks as well.
Pending FAA approval, these specific unmanned aerial vehicles are set to be used domestically throughout the United States. Besides the obvious uses for these drones such as during a legitimate raid, these drones may be used in order to further the police state and restrict free speech in America.
“U.K. police have used micro UAVs to monitor ‘anti-social behavior,’ writes Joseph Nevins of the Boston Review.
At this point, domestic UAV operations are extremely limited. But with the astonishing growth of the industry and the efforts of AUVSI, the UAV Caucus, and others to loosen FAA restrictions, we can expect an explosion of use by local and federal policing agencies in the near future. such as political protests. This is simply another push towards a complete police state.
What will be considered anti-social behavior remains to be seen, but if the ever evolving police state is any indication these drones will be used to spy on citizens who are against the private Federal Reserve, Obamacare, and the New World Order.
This information is right out there in the open yet it seems that the American people are once again asleep at the wheel. Where are the widespread protests against the aerial surveillance of any American that the corrupt federal government chooses to set their sights on?
We’re clearly entering some sort of science fiction reality where anything seems to be possible. We have flying vaccines on the backs of GM mosquitoes, as well as the imminent arrival of nanotechnology and nanobots in our daily lives, which only portends more nightmarish developments from the Department of Defense. But here is the latest from Honeywell, a huge military contractor working with DARPA:
Added: 28. January 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
Michael Edwards and Alex Thomas