Tag Archives | Spy Drones

Germany To Use Anti-Graffiti Drones

droneWill drones render petty crime a relic of the past? The BBC reports:

Germany’s national railway company, Deutsche Bahn, plans to test small drones to try to reduce the amount of graffiti being sprayed on its property.

The idea is to use airborne infra-red cameras which could then be used to prosecute vandals who deface property at night. The drones would have infra-red sensors sophisticated enough for people to be identified, providing key evidence.

German media report that each drone will cost about 60,000 euros and fly almost silently, up to 495ft above ground. A company spokesman said drones would be tested at rail depots soon.

It is not yet clear how Germany’s strict anti-surveillance laws might affect their use. Using cameras to film people surreptitiously is a sensitive issue in Germany, where privacy is very highly valued.

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The Next Job Boom: Drone Pilot

Colleges across the country are starting to offer UAV piloting programs in anticipation of the coming drone boom. NBC News writes:

Randal Franzen was 53, unemployed and nearly broke when his brother, a tool mentioned that pilots for remotely piloted aircraft – more commonly known as drones – were in high demand. He landed at Kansas State, and graduated in 2011 with with an offer “well into the six figures” as a flight operator for a military contractor in Afghanistan.

While most jobs flying drones currently are military-related, the FAA predicts that 10,000 commercial drones will be operating in the U.S. within five years. At the moment, 358 public institutions – including 14 universities and colleges – have permits from the FAA to fly unmanned aircraft. Among the possible applications: Monitoring livestock and oil pipelines, spotting animal poachers, tracking down criminals fleeing crime scenes and delivering packages for UPS and FedEx.

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California Law Enforcement Battles Controvery Over Move To Use Drones

Oakland, a hotbed of political activism, may serve as the model city for the deployment of police spy drones, Ars Technica reports:

Since Congress passed legislation in February ordering the FAA to fast-track the approval of unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e. drones) for use by law enforcement agencies, police and sheriff departments across the country have been scrambling to purchase the smaller, unarmed cousins of the Predator and Reaper drones which carry out daily sorties over Afghanistan.

California’s Alameda County (which encompasses Berkeley and Oakland) has become one of the central battlegrounds over the introduction of drones to domestic police work. Earlier this year, County Sheriff Gregory Ahern raised the hackles of local civil libertarians by declaring his intention to purchase a drone to assist with “emergency response.”

Were Alameda County to purchase a drone, it would set a precedent in California, which has long been an innovator in law enforcement tactics: from SWAT teams (pioneered in Delano and Los Angeles) to anti-gang tactics such as civil injunctions.

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How Drones Will Change Life In Our Cities

Ready yourself to hear, “Pizza incoming from above”. Animal New York on how petite unmanned drones are poised to reshape the urban environment, possibly as soon as three years from now:

The spread of do-it-yourself robotics could radically change the news, the police, business and politics. And it could spark a sort of drone arms race as competing robot users seek to balance out their rivals. Imagine police drones patrolling at treetop level down city streets, their cameras scanning crowds for weapons or suspicious activity. “Newsbots” might follow in their wake, streaming live video of the goings-on. In nearby zip codes, drones belonging to real estate agents scope out hot properties. Robots deliver pizzas by following the signal from customers’ cell phones.

These aren’t just fantasies. All of these things are happening today, although infrequently and sometimes illegally. The only thing holding back the robots is government regulations that have failed to keep up with technology.

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LAPD To Crack Down On Use Of Unmanned Drones By Real Estate Agents

dronerIn a nightmarish scenario from the future, technology ostensibly created to spy on our “enemies” is now being turned against us by the most nefarious of forces — real estate brokers. The Los Angeles Times reveals:

The Los Angeles Police Department is warning real estate agents not to use images of properties taken from unmanned aircraft, saying the flying drones pose a potential safety hazard and could violate federal aviation policy.

The warning was issued this week after officers saw a television news report showing a basketball-sized object with multiple rotors hovering over an expansive Westside residence.

Real estate agents have been posting aerial photos and video of homes for sale in the Los Angeles area, according to the LAPD. The pictures have been taken from several hundred feet off the ground in the city’s crowded airspace — an altitude at which police helicopters often fly.

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The Drones Are Coming Home

dronerWill baby-sized drones soon be used routinely for tracking residential property lines and other domestic purposes? With our nation’s adventures in Iraq coming to an end, unmanned drones will need to be kept busy doing something…via BLDG BLOG:

A post on sUAS News—a blog tracking the “small unmanned aviation system industry”—we read about the possibility of drone aircraft being used to enforce residential property tax.

Citing a recent court ruling in Arkansas that “has approved the use of aerial imagery to collect data on property sizes,” and making reference to the already-controversial state deployment of aerial surveillance tools, sUAS suggests that drones could someday be used to manage a near-realtime catalog of local property expansions, transfers, and other tax-relevant land alterations.

Whether enforcing local building codes—keeping an eye, for instance, on illegally built structures such as the so-called Achill Henge in Ireland—or reconciling on-the-ground property lines with their administrative representations back in the city land archives, how soon will drones become a state tool for regional landscape management?

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Coming To Britain: Unmanned Spy Drones And Facial Recognition Cameras

The Telegraph reports:

Unmanned spy drones, CCTV that recognises faces and cameras in the back of taxis could soon be the norm on the streets of Britain, the Home Office admitted yesterday.

Ministers signalled that advances in technology meant there was nothing to stop such controversial surveillance measures becoming commonplace.

Thales Watchkeeper WK450 UAV

Britain's Thales Watchkeeper WK450 spy drone

The warning came in proposals for a code of practice to better regulate the spread of CCTV amid fears there will be “unchecked proliferation” without it.

Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, said last year that Britain is heading towards becoming a surveillance state of unmanned spy drones, GPS tracking of employees and profiling through social networking sites.

He said the relentless march of surveillance had seen snooping techniques “intensify and expand” at such a pace that regulators were struggling to keep up.

The Coalition Government has pledged to row back the surveillance state and restore civil liberties.

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