Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Indiana To DoD: Please Drone Us

     We need the money, so the state government is pressing to position Indiana as a drone-friendly place, even hiring a Director of Unmanned Systems, an ex-military intel guy who glurges, "We are not...spying on people or anything like that..."  Nope, he wants to "...get into the civilian applications because there's going to be so many of them that we haven't even thought of yet."  Other than spying on people and possibly blowing them up?  Name three.  Name three you can't do better/faster/cheaper from orbit, using what's already up there.

     Hey, somebody's got to murder bystanders by remote control, why not refine the process right here?

     Sometimes living in the future sucks.  One of the darker aspects of the short-lived Fox series Dark Angel (pretty good and gritty post-apocalyptic SF, before it wandered off into silliness in the second season) was the hovering presence of "police drones," small, quiet UAVs that spied on the struggling after-the-Pulse population, a nasty, nagging, over-the-shoulder presence no one could avoid.  Do we really want to live like that?

     On the other hand, Indiana could use the jobs, and is a police drone really any worse than police patrolling in a car?  --In a way, it is; the drone operator, safely back at the control point, can never interact face-to-face; literally alienated, his surveillance choices and (if available) use of force may be drastically different.

     And on the other other hand, military uses of drones will probably remain the most common, especially in the near term.  Parts of Indiana are already routinely bombed  (portions of Camp Atterbury) and/or shot (the former Jefferson Proving Ground, among others).  Getting droned would probably be an improvement.

     "Death by remote control" doesn't sit well with me and hovering robot spies are scarcely more comfortable.  NSA and NRO have been able to read my license plate from orbit since before I even owned anything that had license plate; is a closer view of what's already in plain sight somehow worse?

18 comments:

Bob said...

Tacocopter, mebbe?

docjim505 said...

On the other hand, depending on how high they fly, this COULD be a new sort of sporting clay.

In fact, there might... Excuse me. Two guys in suits and sunglasses are outside. Back in a minute...

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

What gun for drone? And when are they in season?

Douglas2 said...

1: "Suprisingly, drones are already being employed to sell houses in Valparaiso and real estate around the country to show off properties from the air."
Actually, I suspect that this is an unlicensed and illegal use under current FAA regulations -- If you are above minimum altitude, it is an aircraft where both the pilot must be licensed and aircraft deemed airworthy, if you are below minimum altitude then they are willing to look the other way for hobbyists, but not so much for any commercial use. But houses photograph best when you can get rid of the ground clutter near the camera, and not have those pesky vertical edges leaning in as you go up. The latter can be fixed with tilt-shift lenses and both can be fixed with remote shutter for a camera on a very long boom pole.

Survey of crops: unevenness of irrigation and beginnings of root infestation by insects are things that show up very clearly from the air, but yo want to know about them now, not next year when Google Images have updated their maps. Yes, can be done by buying photos of a satellite that happens to be flying overhead, or by conventional aircraft -- but can be done more cheaply and with more immediacy by camera drones.

3. Aerial filming for TV and movies

Tam said...

Douglas2,

I used to work for a company that did mostly real-estate photography from a tethered remote-operated blimp back in the early '90s.

Douglas2 said...

The tethered part makes it not of interest to the FAA unless you are in the vicinity of a landing approach.

Silly distinction, but such lines are best drawn where they are clear and enforceable, and a blimp with a physical connection to the ground is just fine for commercial aerial photos, as is a camera on a stick, but use radio for your tether and it becomes illegal...

http://photographyforrealestate.net/2012/01/24/warning-faa-says-us-airspace-is-closed-to-all-commercial/

Douglas2 said...

Ah -- I fear I may have taken your "Name three you can't do better/faster/cheaper from orbit, using what's already up there." far to literally, especially the narrowness of my interpretation of your use of the word "orbit".

John said...

At least cops with drones will be less likely to get drunk and run over motorcyclists.

Dave H said...

docjim: Somebody beat you to the idea: http://www.gnatusa.com/

Against a drone I'd prefer to use another drone, or jamming the command link. I know! A hobby R/C plane with a superregen control receiver - just fly it up close to the drone and wipe out its command link.

Comrade Misfit said...

I wonder if this would be a good application for one of those suppressed pellet rifles that Wal-Mart sells....

Robert Fowler said...

Wal-Mart sells suppressed air rifles?

BRB

OK, I just fired my plain old Crossman pellet gun. Just what are they suppressing?

For drones, I would think #2 shot in a 10 gauge would be a good choice. Here in Des Moines, we are loosing our F-16 fighter wing and they are being replaced by drones. I think I spotted a got place on the approach to the runway for a great passing shot. I wonder how much you need to lead a predator?

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

Well, not NSA.

NSA just listens in on your Ham stuff and whatnot.

Totally not NSA said...

Or so they say.

Drang said...

Traffic reporting
Search and rescue
Maybe wildlife/forestry surveys or census.

These may be better done in a vehicle with a pilot aboard, but probably don't need an orbital platform; in fact, for S&R, you might be able use the UAV to deliver supplies to locations where a fixed or rotary wing manned vehicle could not go. (Maybe. Blue skying here. with a cat on my left hand, making typing difficult.)

Tam said...

"The tethered part makes it not of interest to the FAA unless you are in the vicinity of a landing approach. "

Up to 300'. Then you need a light. (Lifting 300' of cable plus a 35mm SLR, let alone a Mamiya 645, and the tilt/pan gear was pushing it as it was.)

Chalkie said...

I've heard of some environmentalist types using a drone to catch illegal waste discharge into streams. I really don't know if that's a good use, or just harassment. Also, I'm not even sure if it was a proper drone or just a camera equipped RC plane.

Douglas2 said...

Tam said...

"Up to 300'. Then you need a light."

From an outside observer, you have had some pretty cool jobs in your employment history.

Roberta X said...

Drang: Traffic reporting: not unless everyone is droning and maybe not then; even in little Indianapolis, there can be two police helicopters and three TV ones over the scene of a bad traffic accident (etc.) and for the pilots it's all see-and-avoid at a level that most drone cameras can't accommodate, with some direct negotiation (cops get precedence and so on). Air traffic control is right out of it.

S&R? Needs human hand to actually do anything but look. maybe.

Most of the wildlife-forestry stuff is better done on the ground or from orbit.

Douglas: "selling houses." This one, I have never really got. Who buys a house 'cos it looks good from the air?

Crop survey: maybe. Still suspect satellite imagery is better for serious work.

Aerial filming: already being done, very expensive, typically not flown like a drone: the operator flies it like an R/C airplane, by being in physical sight of it, which is generally safer for the actors.