Since 2011 when U.S. citizen al-Awlaki was killed in a drone strike, various civil rights groups (and family members) have sought to obtain (and challenge) the legal justification for the strike. The issue gained further notoriety in early 2013, when Attorney General Eric Holder refused to rule out a lethal drone strike on U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. Analysis of the justification by interested parties is likely to follow – as are, potentially, more lawsuits.
While drones may be exploding onto the world consciousness at the present time, the idea is surprisingly old, with autonomous torpedos, mobile anti-tank mines, and also these jet-powered surveillance drones from the 1970s. Unable to land properly, the Tu-141 carries a parachute system instead. It does, however, manage to have a top speed more than four times greater than the modern US Predator, with about the same range.
This is more than merely another “police obtaining drones” article. The drones the LAPD received are being given away because the citizens of Seattle refused to let their police force use them. It remains to be seen whether Los Angelos will also reject their use. It is also noteworthy that the LAPD, avoided the word ‘drone’ even as the word reaches common usage for almost any kind of unmanned vehicle – a sign of their awareness of how unpopular police surveillance can be.
What this performance lacks in artistic merit or musical complexity, it makes up for in the technical achievement of delicately coordinating all the flying machines. A sign of the technology’s maturity may well be performances in which the art is more important than the programming.
Both Assad’s forces and the rebels have been using small, often commercial, drones for battlefield intelligence. Even in a war torn and now heavily isolated country, innovation continues.
Drones and the NSA: two of the biggest stories in military technology meet in this article. The NSA provides targets’ cell-phone location data, and drones often collect signals intelligence data for the NSA to analyze. Perhaps even more interesting than this predictable synthesis is the terrorists/insurgents’ adaptation. By changing or trading cell phones, the article claims targets have degraded the NSA’s intelligence data to near uselessness.
Convoys are historically desirable targets in warfare. They are also unarmed. Unmanned convoys can keep people out of dangerous situations while sidestepping the growing debate over the ethics of autonomous killing machines.
Once again, the Navy demonstrates its interest in drones, this time with a high altitude surveillance vehicle. The article hints at an impressive amount of automation in both flight and sensor analysis.