DroneShield is an indieGOGO project from a DC aerospace engineer that aims to build a tiny, net-connected drone-detector/identifier. Based on a Raspberry Pi gumstick computer, it uses a mic to detect the audio signature of nearby drones, and then communicates about its findings over the Internet. The project promises free/open hardware and software specs on its main site. Ars Technica's Cyrus Farivar spoke to Chris Kyriakakis, a USC electrical engineering prof, who suggests the project is feasible, but believes it will need an array of mics for accurate identification. But John Franklin, who's running the effort, says the device will produce useful -- if imperfect -- output even with one mic.
The fully assembled drone detector costs at least $69 as a pre-order (as with all crowdfunded project, it's important to remember that you may never get your device). The project goal is to get them down to $20. For my part, I wonder how this would perform against active countermeasures: it's one thing to detect drones that aren't making any effort to remain hidden or fool detectors about which drone they are, but what about a drone that uses some technology (from playing a recording of a different drone to full-on modifications of its engines and blades) to sound different?
In any event, I expect that this is an intermediate step on the way to this thing disappearing into our phones and becoming an app that would make use of its open database of drone acoustic signatures. I can easily imagine a Drone Foursquare made by volunteers who upload drone "sightings" to realtime maps as they move around the world.
I bought Jane a $60 quadcopter from Banggood for her 10th birthday. One of the motor wires was broken on arrival so I had to solder it back on, and the battery charger was for a European power outlet so I broke it open and soldered on a US plug. Now it works and it's a lot of fun. It has a built in video camera, too!
It has two control modes. Mode 1 is the "beginner mode," which doesn't allow for tight turns. We like Mode 2, because it's actually easier to control. You can flip the captor 360 with the touch of a button on the transmitter, which Jane loves.
Here's a video of Jane flying it and me being paranoid that she's going to get it stuck in a tree. She ends up landing it in the street, and I say a naughty word.
Above is a US Navy demonstration of a high-energy laser on a moving ship shooting down a drone. The Office of Naval Research just announced that they plan to deploy the system next year. "Our conservative data tells us a shot of directed energy costs under $1," Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder said. "Compare that to the hundreds of thousands of dollars it costs to fire a missile, and you can begin to see the merits of this capability." (Navy.mil)
Redditor Federal Reservations has made a handy post enumerating all the regressive, authoritarian, corporatist policies enacted by the Obama administration in its one-and-a-bit terms. You know, for someone the right wing press likes to call a socialist, Obama sure makes Richard Nixon look like Che Guevara. And what's more, this is only a partial list, and excludes the parade of copyright horrors and bad Internet policy emanating from the White House, via Joe Biden's push for Six Strikes, the US Trade Rep's push for secret Internet censorship and surveillance treaties like TPP and ACTA and TAFTA; the DoJ's push to criminalize every Internet user by expanding the CFAA, and much, much more.
Expect to see a lot fewer images of toxic sludge creeping through small communities, thanks to the hard work of ExxonMobil. The company could have used its prodigious resources to make its oil pipelines more secure, preventing town-destroying leaks like the one that hit Mayflower, Arkansas. But they figured out that it would be cheaper to just corrupt the local law to chase reporters out and get the FAA to establish a Temporary Flight Restriction zone over the spill. Problem solved!
Michael Hibblen, who reports for the radio station KUAR, went to the spill site on Wednesday with state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. McDaniel was in the area to inspect the site and hold a news conference, and Hibblen and a small group of reporters were following him to report on the visit. Upon arrival, representatives from the county sheriff's office, which is running security at the site, directed the reporters to a boundary point 10 feet away that they should not pass. The reporters agreed to comply. But the tone shifted abruptly, Hibblen told Mother Jones on Friday:
It was less than 90 seconds before suddenly the sheriff's deputies started yelling that all the media people had to leave, that ExxonMobil had decided they don't want you here, you have to leave. They even referred to it as "Exxon Media"…Some reporters were like, "Who made this decision? Who can we talk to?" The sheriff's deputies started saying, "You have to leave. You have 10 seconds to leave or you will be arrested."
Hibblen says he didn't really have time to deal with getting arrested, since he needed to file his report on the visit for both the local affiliate and national NPR. (You can hear his piece on the AG's visit here.) KUAR has also reported on Exxon blocking reporters' access to the spill site.
Marc from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) sez, "The Electronic Privacy Information Center has published a petition to the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, demanding the suspension of the drone program pending the development of privacy regulations for the use of drones in US airspace. Documents recently obtained by EPIC under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that the drones are equipped with technology for signals interception and human identification. The agency currently operates ten Predator B drones along the border region, an area that encompasses more than two-thirds of the U.S. population. EPIC is urging individuals and organizations to Sign the Petition before March 18. Under federal law, the agency is required to respond to public petitions."
Ever see flying robots doing stuff that you never suspected flying robots could do? I have.
First, a state estimator was used to accurately predict the pendulum’s motion while in flight. Unlike the ball used in the group’s earlier demonstration of quadrocopter juggling, the pendulum’s drag properties depend on its orientation. This means, among other things, that a pendulum in free fall will move sideways if oriented at an angle. Since experiments showed that this effect was quite large for the pendulum used, an estimator including a drag model of the pendulum was developed.
This was important to accurately estimate the pendulum’s catching position.
Another task of the estimator was to determine when the pendulum was in free flight and when it was in contact with a quadrocopter. This was important to switch the quadrocopter’s behavior from hovering to balancing the pendulum.
Second, a fast trajectory generator was needed to quickly move the catching quadrocopter to the estimated catching position.
Third, a learning algorithm was implemented to correct for deviations from the theoretical models for two key events: A first correction term was learnt for the desired catching point of the pendulum. This allowed to capture systematic model errors of the throwing quadrocopter’s trajectory and the pendulum’s flight. A second correction term was learnt for the catching quadrocopter’s position. This allowed to capture systematic model errors of the catching quadrocopter’s rapid movement to the catching position.
Ian Welsh's piece on the "logic of surveillance" makes several good points, but this one really smacked me in the face: "The enforcer class...is paid in large part by practical immunity to many laws and a license to abuse ordinary people."
Surveillance is part of the system of control. The more surveillance the more control, is the majority belief amongst the ruling elites. Automated surveillance requires fewer “watchers”, and since the watchers cannot watch all the surveillance, long term storage increases the ability to find some “crime” anyone is guilty of. When you add in recognition systems based on face, gait or other procedures, you have the theoretical ability to track a person from the moment they leave their home till they return to it. Other measures make it possible to see what people are doing in their own homes (IR heat maps, for example.) A world in which everyone is tracked all the time is very possible.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes
This is one of the biggest problems the current elites face: they want the smallest enforcer class possible, so as to spend surplus on other things. The enforcer class is also insular, primarily concerned with itself (see Dorner) and is paid in large part by practical immunity to many laws and a license to abuse ordinary people. Not being driven primarily by justice and a desire to serve the public and with a code of honor which appears to largely center around self-protection and fraternity within the enforcer class, the enforcers reliability of the enforcers is in question: they are blunt tools and their fear for themselves makes them remarkably inefficient.
You've had a busy play day - You've wiretapped Mom's cell phone and e-mail without a warrant, you've indefinitely detained your little brother Timmy in the linen closet without trial, and you've confiscated all the Super-Soakers from the neighborhood children (after all, why does any kid - besides you, of course - even NEED a Super-Soaker for self-defense? A regular water pistol should be enough). What do you do for an encore?
That's where the US Air Force Medium Altitude, Long Endurance, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) RQ-1 Predator from Maisto comes in. Let's say that Dad has been labeled a terrorist in secret through your disposition matrix. Rather than just arrest him and go through the hassle of trying and convicting him in a court of law, and having to fool with all those terrorist-loving Constitutional protections, you can just use one of these flying death robots to assassinate him! Remember, due process and oversight are for sissies. Plus, you get the added bonus of taking out potential terrorists before they've even done anything - estimates have determined that you can kill up to 49 potential future terrorists of any age for every confirmed terrorist you kill, and with the innovative 'double-tap' option, you can even kill a few terrorist first responders, preventing them from committing terrorist acts like helping the wounded and rescuing survivors trapped in the rubble. Don't let Dad get away with anti-American activities! Show him who's boss, whether he's at a wedding, a funeral, or just having his morning coffee. Sow fear and carnage in your wake! Win a Nobel Peace Prize and be declared Time Magazine's Person of the Year - Twice!
This goes well with the Maisto Extraordinary Rendition playset, by the way - which gives you all the tools you need to kidnap the family pet and take him for interrogation at a neighbor's house, where the rules of the Geneva Convention may not apply. Loads of fun! [Maurice Cobbs]
This is the best toy ever. Finally, I can pretend that I'm a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize!
It's like I'm sitting right there in the White House with my very own kill list! [Raini Pachak]
Seattle's police force were very hot-to-trot for a pair of new surveillance drones, an issue that became a lightning rod for criticism of the scandal-haunted force. After public outcry, the city's mayor simply returned the UAVs to their manufacturer
Later this afternoon, Mayor Mike McGinn will announce that he is grounding the Seattle Police Department's controversial drone program and returning the two remotely controlled planes to the vendor, according to sources at City Hall who asked not to be named. "The mayor and chief had a conversation and agreed it was time to end the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle program," one of the sources tells us. "It had become a distraction to the two things the department is working hard on, general public safety and community-building work."
The news comes on the heels of—and largely in response to—an angry hearing yesterday held by Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell, who was considering legislation to restrict the use of the drones for police investigations. The program has created a slowly burning outcry since 2010, when the city purchased the units for intelligence gathering with the help of a federal Homeland Security grant.
The algorithmic overlords of Alibaba are sending me astonishing stuff via their "suggested crapgadgets you might be interested in" hourly email. Wireless car key duplicators and GPS jammers came first. But today they have truly outdone themselves, suggesting that I might be interested in a "small attack UAV". Yes, you heard right.
This actually does claim to be the real deal. From the page: "ball tripod head freely rotates to guide the UAV attacking targets. Engine uses mechanical and electronic three grades insurance with high security. The UAV is mainly used in the mountains, hills and complex terrain conditions; does effective short-range real-time attack to the fixed ground target or slowly move targets, such as artillery hole, command post, communication station, radar station, oil truck, oil depot and other small and temporary goals."
They state a production capability of ten pieces per month.
I am tempted to ask for a price quote, if only to nudge the Alibaba Algorithm into sending me even more offers from the cloak and dagger side of the Crapgadget Universe....
Espen sez, "Tech-enthusiast Eirik Solheim (@eirikso) at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) was out fooling around with his quad-copter this weekend, and managed to sneak up on a slightly confused moose. The enthusiasm then reached new heights (audio is a must)."
Update: Eirik sez, "I am amused by the fact that people seem to like the quad-moose video so well. Even if they don't understand the enthusiastic commentary track... But it leaves a lot of questions, so I updated my blog with some answers.
Drones aren't just for the military and government anymore - regular citizens and makers
are embracing drones at an amazing rate and creating some very interesting uses for this
rapidly developing technology. Milo Danger designs, builds, flies & shoots an armed drone
to determine just how safe - or dangerous - these machines are in the hands of a novice flyer.