Droning on and on…

When you say “drone”, most people think of satellite controlled weaponized aircraft killing people in the Near East. In reality, the immediate future of drone technology is more like this:

“Turbo Ace X830 is a multi-rotor drone designed for recreational and professional applications including aerial photography, videography, surveillance and aerial inspections. Unlike most other multi-rotors that requires days of assembly, testing and debugging, the X830 comes fully assembled, programmed and tuned with final test flight performed in the USA. State of the art features ultra stable cutting edge DJI NAZA flight controller (X830-D), integrated vibration dampening super structure and dynamically balanced brushless motors and ESCs. Excellent flight stability plus optional vibrations dampening camera mount offer an exceptional platform for video and FPV options. With its high payload capacity, you can mount a variety of video cameras and lenses. Flexible features includes uploadable firmware capabilities and a multi-module architecture to ease maintenance and repair. Convenient parts and technical support are serviced locally by Wow Hobbies in California. Since we also offer some of the best receivers, transmitters, upgrades and options, you can easily get everything you need in one place.”

For $800, this baby can be yours, and prices are only going to drop.

at DIY Drones, you can learn to build your own and discuss the legality, ethics, politics or just functionality of drones with other drone geeks.

Get used to it. Drones are going to be everywhere, and soon. Congress has directed the FAA to allow civilian drones access to US airspace. The FAA expects 7500 or so active drones within 5 years of the establishment of a regulatory framework (more here), but there will likely be more, and sooner. Drones encircling estates or factories as security surveillance, police drones, drones used by protesters to film police, you can imagine the myriad of uses. The technology is too simple and too cheap to keep people from using it, both legally and illegally. Whatever you can imagine will probably come to pass at some point. Bills limiting drone use are popping up and then dying on the floor of both Congress and Senate with regularity. Chances are, drones will be ubiquitous before any meaningful legislation happens. I lost my tinfoil hat, so I don’t envision President Obama taking out the opposition with a Predator Drone, but a high school kid rigging one like you see above with some kind of weapon? I’d say the question is not “if” but “when”. Paparazzi are probably salivating at the notion of flying their cameras over the backyard swimming pools of celebrity hotties, and savvy entrepreneurs are likely designing perimeter protection to knock them out of the sky.

Military use is inevitably going to balloon as well, although satellite controlled units will be limited to nations who have satellites, but how easy would it be to fly an IED with a four rotor radio controlled drone into a market or military post? It’s bound to happen. Suicide drones. You can’t ban them, only guard against them. This isn’t like nuclear weapons, which require technological expertise and specialized equipment to produce. These things can be pieced together in a garage or basement for a few hundred bucks.

The world is going to get a lot more interesting, a lot less private, and a lot more dangerous, and it is going to happen quickly.

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