Xeno's strange news awards blog.
Drones have been a hot topic ever since U.S. Justice Department memos surfaced showing how they’re been used to kill suspected terrorists, some who were U.S. citizens.
Now the debate has come to Oklahoma. Some say building them will boost our economy; others argue they could be used as a government big brother, watching your every move.
Drones allow the military to save lives and money, by not putting pilots in harm’s way for dangerous missions. There has been concern that they could be used in the U.S. to target suspects.
The FAA clarified its position recently saying armed unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, are not allowed in U.S. airspace.
But will unarmed versions take off here?
State Representative Paul Wesselhoft of Moore is against it. He has introduced legislation that would require law enforcement to get a warrant before they could use one in Oklahoma.
In a statement Wesselhoft says, “We have to keep in mind that these technologies have the very real potential to seriously erode privacy rights.”
“We certainly don’t want to have a small little drone about the size of toy helicopter to go buzzing around someone’s backyard, looking in windows,” said Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett.
In Tulsa, they aren’t being used yet. Mayor Bartlett says he would consider them to a certain point.
“Privacy concerns are very paramount and very important to all of us and we certainly don’t want to overstep in any manner shape or form infringe upon people’s rights to privacy,” said Mayor Dewey Bartlett.
Ben Kimbro’s company, Tactical Electronics in Broken Arrow, makes UAVs and does contract work with governments around the world.
He sits on the Governor’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Council and believes UAV research would pour in tens of millions of dollars into our state’s economy. Kimbro sees how some may be worried.
“It is my belief and I’ve seen it in practice for 17 years that policy does an effective job of guiding law enforcement agents and officers on when and where they may use a specific technology,” said Ben Kimbro, Executive Vice President of Tactical Electronics.
The state of Oklahoma is in the running for one of six Department of Defense/FAA test sites for UAVs. A decision could come later this year. …
Another drone story.
That’s the rather weird approach to technology insertion used by the Air Force with a Predator drone that crashed in Afghanistan on May 8, 2009, according to the Air Force aerospace mishaps data base.
Some unknown soul “tacked into place” a software chip that controlled an aileron on the wings of the armed Predator, using the same kind of silicone vulcanizing rubber cement used for minor car repairs, according to the Air Force crash report. This makeshift approach was to facilitate easy removal of the chip for programming updates, the report said.
Alas, vibration in flight knocked the chip loose, which in turn knocked out operation of the aileron and led to the crash and destruction of the $4.6 million drone.
Hopefully, the folks operating the 30,000 drones expected to be operating in U.S. airspace by 2030 will not take such a slapdash approach to sticking gizmos into their unmanned aircraft.
How do people defend themselves against drones? I wouldn’t shoot a bird myself, but if I had to have a gun for taking out a bird-sized pest in the sky, I’d probably go with a Remington 870.
The drones come in a number of flavours; the ‘military derived’ Afghanistan tested fixed wing HERTI drone from BAE Systems, the much smaller and less serious looking rotor driven Hicam Microdrone and the rumoured Lindstrand Technologies GA22 airship unmanned inflatable drone. … drones are usually equipped with remote cameras but have already been tested to carry loudspeakers, LRAD audio technology and weaponry such as Tasers and Flash-ball guns (as demonstrated by Tecknisolar Seni in France). ….
Anti Drone Tactics:
The ‘insurgents’ in Iraq and Afghanistan have had some success in shooting down large fast flying US military drones – similar to the BAU Herti – using small arms fire; AK47s etc (currently unavailable at Maplins), so the slower moving Microdrones should be easy prey to automatic weapons fire – the obvious problem is that such weapons are illegal (in the UK) and not exactly subtle when used in a ‘public order’ environment.
For taking out Microdrones a (slightly) more legal option might be a paint ball gun which fires large calibre low velocity paint capsules that will blind as well as damage the target. Paint ball guns have the advantage of being legal and commonly available but again, probably not the best choice for riots and demonstrations. For these occasions, the simple hand held catapult firing a range of improvised ammunition should do the job though surreptitiously hitting a moving 1m sized target at a range of, say, 100 metres may require a little target practise…and may take a few shots as the drone can still fly with only two of its four rotors functioning.
Jamming the control and navigation signals should be an effective way of disabling the drones – jammers work within a fixed range radius rather than having to be targeted and have the added benefit of being non-destructive – allowing the capture and re-use of the confused drone…
Radio Control Frequency
The Microdrone uses the same radio control method as model RC aircraft to direct it’s flighpath. The exact frequency used by the police probably falls within the UK frequency regulations for RC aircraft otherwise RC frequencies can easily be scanned and jammed using RF jammers for selected frequencies or more crudely saturate the whole spectrum.
Build your own RF Jammer:
“If you want to saturate the bandwidth, you use an analog device with simple FM modulation. Eight 2.4Ghz wireless video transmitters of sufficient power would do it.”
The Hicam Microdrones navigate using standard GPS, which is particularly sensitive to jamming. There are a number of portable GPS jammers on the market or for a few quid you can build your own…
US authorities were alarmed when they discovered that the Taliban have been using Russian authored Sky Grabber software to intercept drone video signals:
“SkyGrabber is a hobby for person who accepting free to air satellite data by digital satellite TV tuner card from satellite provider. SkyGrabber is for fun.”
An important aspect of intercepting drone signals will be to use the footage against the police or is support of legal defence.
Other Anti-Drone ideas – please add your own!:
Focussed microwave beam
A standard domestic microwave could be focussed using a parabolic dish to direct the beam on a single source capable of destroying and disrupting circuity in cameras and motors. Downside is, mistakes could be dangerous or fatal…
Equip a common-or-garden toy RC helicopter with an attachable line that locks to a target drone. Once attached, pull the police drone down by hand…