The drone must be able to collect and disseminate information, while evading a sniper ambush. Adhering to these specification was an imperative therefore, as KheOps explained. "The person should take the least risk possible. It must be able to be piloted manually, by sight, via a camera."
The camera is equipped with a transmitter, allowing images to be broadcast live within a theoretical radius of several kilometres. The small working group has inspired many projects under development in recent months, in the same spirit of sousveillance, such as the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators’ Occucopter. Construction is not a question of reinventing the wheel, as the hacktivists explain. “We stuck the bits and pieces of the drone’s brain together with duct tape,” said Okhin, a skinny fast-talking agent. “The controller, for example, already exists, and it’s then a matter of patching it based on our experience.”
The most important step is to provide clear documentation, so that the drone can be easily reproduced. That fact also has another, more unfortunate consequence, of which they are extremely conscious: the drone could also be used for repressive purposes.
To fund research and experimentation into the use of drone vehicles as news and information-gathering tools, to study the ethics of these techniques and to publish case studies and best-practices guides
Professor Matt Waite will lead a project to research and experiment with drone vehicles as potential tools for news and public data collection. The university will conduct live experiments as well as research into the ethics, legal issues and best practices of drone journalism.
In April 2003 a Congressional Research Service report noted, “The current UAV accident rate … is 100 times that of manned aircraft.” Things are definitely looking better in 2012, with a report by the Air Force Safety Center showing accident rates for Predators, Reapers and Global Hawks that are very close to those of manned aircraft like F-16s and F-22s when you compare similar points in their life cycles (cumulative hours flown).
Sea Shepherd is a vigilante environmental organization founded by Paul Watson (the subject of an excellent New Yorker profile a few years back), that tries to prevent Japanese fleets from killing whales in Antarctic waters, by monitoring and ramming them. In order to avoid the Sea Shepherd’s boats, Watson says the fleets have started sending harpoon boats to follow his ships when they get close, to relay their coordinates and allow the whalers to escape. But Sea Shepherd gained an advantage in the catfish and mouse game this year by acquiring drones for two of its ships, the Steve Irwin and the Bob Barker. Osprey drones from Hangar 18 can fly approximately 200 miles from the ships, making it easier to find and keep on the tail of the whalers.
A film by Omer Fast.
The film is based on two meetings with a Predator drone sensor operator, which were recorded in a hotel in Las Vegas in September 2010. On camera, the drone operator agreed to discuss the technical aspects of his job and his daily routine. Off camera and off the record, he briefly described recurring incidents in which the unmanned plane fired at both militants and civilians - and the psychological difficulties he experienced as a result.
The animal rights group S.H.A.R.K claim a hunter shot down the UAV they were using to surveil a pigeon shoot.
The president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) comes out strongly against the idea that we should just shoot at UAVs we don’t want flying overhead:
“To advocate for people to shoot down any object from U.S. airspace is irresponsible, dangerous and unlawful. Unmanned aerial systems are being designed to serve the public good, such as helping search and rescue officers find missing children, monitor weather and wildlife, provide disaster relief and respond to emergencies, as they did in the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan last year. The myriad of important uses will be imperiled if they become targets. Meanwhile, the suggestion that Americans take up arms against unmanned aircraft also endangers citizens on the ground.”
“AUVSI welcomes civil discussions about privacy and the proper uses of unmanned aircraft, but it cannot and does not condone violence against technology intended to keep citizens safe while saving taxpayer dollars.”
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer recently stated that unmanned aircraft should be banned entirely in the United States, and said that “I would predict — I’m not encouraging, but I would predict, the first guy who uses a Second Amendment weapon to bring down a drone that’s hovering over his house is gonna be a folk hero in this country.”
The NBC television show “Harry’s Law” also recently portrayed its main character shooting down a “drone” in just such a situation.
On May 10 in Incheon, South Korea, a Schiebel aviation engineer was killed and two colleagues were injured when a Schiebel CAMCOPTER S-100 unmanned helicopter weighing 250-350 lbs crashed into their ground control van, possibly history’s first accidental drone death.
From sUAS News:
The South Korean military are reported to be investigating whether the jamming of GPS signals by North Korea could have caused the crash. There have been several noted jamming incidents since April 28th, including another incident on the 10th which forced a Coast Guard helicopter to abort take off at Gimpo airport. At least 4 aircraft landing at Inchon are reported to have had GPS failures as well.
Aircraft zapped by the high-powered jammer include 618 Korean passenger planes, 48 foreign passenger planes, including 17 U.S., 10 Japanese and six Chinese, and one U.S. military aircraft.
Schiebel has since confirmed that loss of GPS led to the crash, though the vehicle was designed to be able to operate safely without GPS:
In a statement supplied to New Scientist, Schiebel says its Camcopter S-100 drone, a 150-kilogram rotorcraft capable of 220 km/h flight, should have coped in any case because GPS can be lost for many reasons, such as an inability to access the positioning satellites due to obstruction by high buildings. The Camcopter has multiple inertial measurement units that “allow safe operation and recovery in the absence of GPS signals” the firm says.
“All information recovered to date indicates that after a loss of GPS signals to the aircraft’s receivers incorrect handling and omissions over a time period of a number of minutes, resulted in an unfortunate chain of events that ultimately led to the crash,” the statement says. Emergency procedures “to ensure a safe recovery in such a situation” do not appear to have been “correctly and adequately followed” it alleges.
The ongoing Korean investigation is said to be focusing on the cause of the GPS denial and e-forensics on the charred remains of the control electronics, little of which survived.
The pilot made a radio transmission to air traffic control about the object, KUSA reported, citing LiveATC.net. "A remote-controlled aircraft, or what, but something just went by the other way. ... About 20 to 30 seconds ago, and it was like a large remote-controlled aircraft," the pilot said.
Now the Adams County sheriff’s department says they found a 14 foot long solar bag that looks like “a long black noodle” that might have been the object the pilot saw.