Autonomous surveillance platforms like the Herti drones developed in Afganistan will soon fly over the UK for routine monitoring of antisocial motorists, protesters, and anyone else the Home Office deems in need of watching. Police authorities hope to have the drones approved and ready for the 2012 Olympics.
The arms manufacturer BAE Systems, which produces a range of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for war zones, is adapting the military-style planes for a consortium of government agencies led by Kent police.
Documents from the South Coast Partnership, a Home Office-backed project in which Kent police and others are developing a national drone plan with BAE, have been obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act.
They reveal the partnership intends to begin using the drones in time for the 2012 Olympics. They also indicate that police claims that the technology will be used for maritime surveillance fall well short of their intended use – which could span a range of police activity – and that officers have talked about selling the surveillance data to private companies
The following video provides an excellent introduction to the capabilities of the Herti drone.
(Herti drone video)
Players of Half-Life 2 are familiar with the City Scanners, small autonomous surveillance drones.
Greg Bear gives you a nice foretaste of what it would be like to be buzzed by a UAV - Little Bird - in his 2003 novel Darwin's Children:
Mitch heard a rasping, flacketing buzz, like a big insect, and glanced up with a scowl into the stormy gloom. Saw nothing...
Little Bird gave them a series of clear, frozen pictures, at the ends of blurry swoops, the pictures cameoed on the big screens in blue wrapped squares.
Two names came up on the last screen. Facial matching had led to an identification that Augustine did not need. The man walking around the house was Mitch Rafelson...
From the Guardian. Thanks to Will Hobson for submitting the tip for this story.
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