Friday, January 09, 2015

Can You See Where This is Going?

The latest consumer-grade drones are a big hit at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 in Las Vegas.  The technology behind the latest drones has come a long way.  Not only are they dead easy to fly and self-stabilizing but one of this year's offerings, the Airdog, can even track you.

It's being pitched as a breakthrough in video of sporting events, such as motorsports, and the demonstrations are impressive.  What's less impressive are the alternative applications this technology suggests.

A drone that can autonomously follow an individual at speeds upwards of 40 mph can probably be adapted to do other things such as harassing or even attacking the subject being pursued.  This is akin to military-grade technology in a very difficult to regulate consumer product.

The thing is this Genie is decidedly out of the bottle and, as the range of today's consumer drones steadily increases, it won't take long for some nasty customers to figure out any number of ulterior purposes for it.


Toby said...

Any word on the danger of the blades?

Think one of those machines could be armed with a gun?

Unknown said...
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The Mound of Sound said...

Hi, Toby. If the technology in this consumer drone can stabilize, aim and focus the Go-Pro camera, it could easily be adapted to sight, train and fire a gun. For the consumer market this is being deployed on a relatively low-cost quad-copter with limited range and flight duraction but it could be as easily used on a longer-duration and range conventional wing drone with better loiter and lift capability.

I saw this coming a few years ago when US forces in Afghanistan began using small, hand-launched but high-tech drones. At the time I realized they were letting the Genie out of the bottle and it wouldn't be long before that same technology became a low-cost civilian-sector commodity. From there it drops right into the laps of the bad guys who would harness its ability to their own sinister purposes.

Owen Gray said...

We live in a world where privacy is becoming a thing of the past, Mound.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hi, Owen. Yes, privacy is all but gone and that undermines most of the civil, political and human rights for which privacy has been the foundation, but I see the mass commodification of these technologies as challenging security threats.

Technology to autonomously follow a moving target with onboard systems that enable a camera to stabilize, aim and focus on that target present a powerful opportunity for those who would do us harm.

Suddenly we're going to need jammers, devices that can electronically scramble these onboard systems and crash these drones. It becomes a consumer arms race with breakthroughs spawning counter-technologies in which you can have just as much security as you can afford.

Add to this GPS navigation systems (already integrated in this technology) and you have small, cheap and yet effective cruise missiles.

I saw this coming a few years ago but I am astonished it reached consumer markets quite so quickly.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we should all own a 410 shotgun?

Anonymous said...

It leads to mass surveillance Mound. That all and get ready.

Anonymous said...

With these machines leaving the store by the thousands it will become a double edged sword.
If they( whoever they are) can spy on us then we can spy on them!.
When all else fails , as I said, shoot the effers down.
410, air rifle or paint ball gun,FFS, fight back.