Skynet it’s not yet, but one has to wonder…

Police Drone...
Skynet’s distant ancestor

The fact of the matter is that this, like so many other things, is coming.  I used to laugh at some ‘SciFi-ish’ cartoons for their depiction of flying drone/droid/robo cops, but then I’ve never been any better at predicting the future than most other engineers, we always dive way too deep into the details far too quickly unless we have something keeping our head out of the water long enough to figure out if we are in the ocean, sea, lake, pond, swamp or whirlpool. 

But there is the issue of privacy and the increasing ability of ‘the system’ to keep track of citizens 24/7/365.  Save a few puppies and a kid or so and we’re all for giving up a little bit of something for increased safety.  But at what cost, and have ‘we’ ever considered that we may be being manipulated?…..Anyway….

This post by Babbage at the Economist covers the ground pretty thoroughly, at least for the near term.  I think the killer app here is the comment about replacing choppers which cost a couple of million up to operate along with expensive maintenance and aircrew tails. Smaller police forces will be able to have an air contingent and big forces will have a lot of these things (hopefully replacing most if not all the choppers, which are IMO a waste of taxpayer money.)
 
UAV’s , particularly like the one in the picture have a lot of advantages they :
  • can fly in a wider weather window than crewed craft.
  • are harder to see and hear
  • can land and sit/monitor for long periods
  • could operate 24 hours with rotating crews or units
  • can travel ‘as the crow flies’ instead of around buildings, fences, traffic etc
That’s in the near term, 2-3 years, what about the middle Future (4-7 years)?:
  • Wide area surveillance from solar powered (maybe a SolarSaurs?) high altitude platforms.
  • Add ‘Gorgon’s Stare’ technology, constant surveilance with roll back capability.
  • UAV’s the size of a bird it could follow a perp under cover.
  • UAV’s that can launch a smaller pursuit drone with a TAZER ?…a bit like this
  • What about a humingbird UAV?

And as you add those capabilities my libertarian hackles go up more and more.  None of the above should be given by a free citizenry to a gov’t that is actively growing and actively misusing its powers or taking advantage of congressional stupidity.

…Maybe I’d be happier if…..I had the right to pot one of the little puckers if it was over my property without my permission?  Hey it would create a new market, for home ultra short range anti aircraft systems!  Maybe these guys would have a head start?

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