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"[Science fiction] has become big business, where books are merchandised and promoted and distributed and placed on sale like slabs of bacon or cans of soup."
- Frederik Pohl

Copseye  
  A small floating "eye-in-the-sky" surveillance drone used by police in an extensive park.  

In this near-future story, areas are set aside as anarchy zones. Police use a special kind of remote surveillance drone to ensure that there is no physical violence, but are otherwise uninvolved.

Someone at police headquarters had expected that. Twice the usual number of copseyes floated overhead, waiting. Gold dots against blue, basketball-sized, twelve feet up. Each a television eye and a sonic stunner, each a hookup to police headquarters, they were there to enforce the law of the Park...

Within King's Free Park was an orderly approximation of anarchy. People were searched at the entrances. There were no weapons inside. The copseyes, floating overhead and out of reach were the next best thing to no law at all.

There was only one law to enforce. All acts of attempted violence carried the same penalty for attacker and victim. Let anyone raise his hand against his neighbor, and one of the golden basketballs would stun them both.

They would wake separately, with copseyes watching. It was usually enough. No violence.

From Cloak of Anarchy, by Larry Niven.
Published by Analog in 1972
Additional resources -

This story is an interesting exploration of the concept of anarchy in a real setting. Makes for an interesting contrast with the same kind of setting in Robert Heinlein's Coventry (if you did not agree to live up to the rules of society, you were given the choice to live with the asocials in a fenced-in environment).

Remote drones are under development to serve a variety of purposes.

The Traffic Surveillance Drone project in Georgia has a ducted fan drone under development; it uses an aluminum chassis with a carbon composite body structure to provide stability.

You might also want to check out the endearing entry for little bird, from Darwin's Children by Greg Bear.

Compare to the skyball from A Day for Damnation (1985) by David Gerrold.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 3 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Cloak of Anarchy
  More Ideas and Technology by Larry Niven
  Tech news articles related to Cloak of Anarchy
  Tech news articles related to works by Larry Niven

Copseye-related news articles:
  - Eye Ball R1 Remote Surveillance Camera
  - SkySeer UAV Drone Soars Over L.A.
  - Small Robot Surveillance Balloons Like Niven's Copseye
  - Hovering Crowd Control Beam
  - Police iDrone UAVs With Tasers
  - Miami-Dade Police First To Use UAV Drones?
  - Spherical Flying Robot Hovers, Flies At 40 MPH
  - CUPID Intercept Drone Like Niven's Copseye
  - GimBall Indoor Search Drone From Flyability
  - Pepper Spray Drones Do Crowd Control For Indian Police
  - 3D Printed Spherical Flying Machine
  - Armed Drone Opens Fire
  - DIY Armed UAV (Toy)

Articles related to Surveillance
IJOP Integrated Joint Operations Platform China's Minority Report?
Kuri Robot Roams Your Home, Taking Pictures
Nuclear Drones Could Fly For Years
China's Drone Fleet Flies In Formation

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