In this installment of “Skynet is Coming, Skynet is Coming!” we see the future hurtling toward us: armed drones (“rogue drones”) and the counter-measures being developed by government and private enterprise to defeat them. Joy.
A drone lands on the roof of the Japanese Prime Minister’s office with radioactive sand. A couple of drones hover over French landmarks. A drone crashes on the White House lawn.
Welcome to the next chapter in asymmetrical and non-state-actor warfare, simple idiocy, or maybe – just maybe – a couple of great clips for someone’s demo reel.
You can’t exactly use Stinger anti-aircraft missiles or an A-10 Warthog with mini gun to take down a DJI Phantom, can you? And even if you could, how would you know you should? What’s a threat, and what’s idiocy?
Good thing we have private enterprise to the rescue once more – with taxpayer money – to figure out how to sort it all out.
But snarkiness aside, what else can we do? Don’t we have to “hope for the best while preparing for the worst?”
Yes, we do.
You know why? Just take a look at the Michael Crichton thriller RUNAWAY. After all, there really is no difference between flying drones and creepy-crawley drones used by bad people – OK, other than flying — like the ones populating his 1984 (how appropriately dated!) Tom Selleck/Gene Simmons/Kirstie Alley flick.
But with autonomous drones and autonomous cars already out there, the REALLY frightening thing is contemplating not bad people, but bad robots.
They ought to know.
Copping a ’copter
Via The Economist:
In the hands of criminals, small drones could be a menace. Now is the time to think about how to detect them and knock them down safely
ON APRIL 22nd a drone carrying radioactive sand landed on the roof of the Japanese prime minister’s office in Tokyo. It was the latest of a string of incidents around the world involving small drones. Last year more than a dozen French nuclear plants were buzzed by them. In January one crashed on the White House lawn. In February and early March several were spotted hovering near the Eiffel tower and other Parisian landmarks. Later in March someone attempted to fly one full of drugs (and also a screwdriver and a mobile phone) into a British prison. The employment of drones for nefarious, or potentially nefarious, purposes thus seems to have begun in earnest. It is only a matter of time before somebody attempts to use a drone, perhaps carrying an explosive payload, to cause serious damage or injury. The question for the authorities is how to try to stop this happening.
The French government is already taking the issue seriously. In March, it held trials of anti-drone “detect and defeat” systems. These trials used two sorts of drone as targets. One was fixed-wing aeroplanes with a wingspan of up to two metres. The other sort was quadcopters—miniature helicopters that have four sets of rotors, one at each corner, for stability. The results have yet to be reported.
Detecting a small drone is not easy. Such drones are slow-moving and often low-flying, which makes it awkward for radar to pick them up, especially in the clutter of a busy urban environment. “Defeating” a detected drone is similarly fraught with difficulty. You might be able to jam its control signals, to direct another drone to catch or ram it, or to trace its control signals to find its operator and then “defeat” him instead. But all of this would need to take place, as far as possible, without disrupting local Wi-Fi systems (drones are often controlled by Wi-Fi), and it would certainly have to avoid any risk of injuring innocent bystanders.
Read full article at The Economist “Copping a ’copter”
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(cover photo credit: snap from The Economist)
And always with the ambition of authenticity, humanity and wit.
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