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Miniature Drones Spray Enemies With ‘Tracking Dust’

Nano Air Vehicle developed by AeroVironment

Nano Air Vehicle developed by AeroVironment

Adam Rawnsley writes for Wired:

Here’s how the U.S. Air Force wants to hunt the next generation of its enemies: A tiny drone sneaks up to a suspect, paints him with an unnoticed powder or goo that allows American forces to follow him everywhere he goes — until they train a missile on him.

On Tuesday, the Air Force issued a call for help making a miniature drone that could covertly drop a mysterious and unspecified tracking “dust” onto people, allowing them to be tracked from a distance. The proposal says its useful for all kinds of random things, from identifying friendly forces and civilians to tracking wildlife. But the motive behind a covert drone tagger likely has less to do with sneaking up on spotted owls and more to do with painting a target on the backs of tomorrow’s terrorists.

Effectively tracking foes has become a high priority — and deeply secret — research effort for the Pentagon, which has struggled at times to sort out insurgent from innocent in places like Afghanistan.

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