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Honeywell To Sell Miami-Dade Police a Surveillance Drone 253

Posted by Soulskill
from the setting-trends dept.
AHuxley writes "The Miami-Dade Police Department recently finalized a deal to buy a 20-pound drone from defense firm Honeywell. The drone can fly for 40 minutes, reach heights of 10,500 feet and cruise in the air at 46 miles an hour. As the Miami-Dade Police Department has recently made a lot of budget cuts, the funding may have come from a federal grant. An eye in the sky like over Iraq and Afghanistan may soon be looking down over South Florida 'to keep people safe.' Honeywell has applied to the FAA for clearance to fly the drone in urban areas."
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Honeywell To Sell Miami-Dade Police a Surveillance Drone

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  • by TheL0ser (1955440) on Friday January 07, 2011 @11:49AM (#34792500)
    Does it come with missiles?
    • Does it come with missiles?

      For police use, a TASER would be a better idea. A quadrotor drone equipped with a TASER would be very useful to police. Once you've identified a perp using gyrostabilized telescopic video cameras invisibly from 1000's of feet in the air, you can wait until the perp is alone, then swoop in and stun the perp while a patrol car is called in with the GPS coordinates to take him in.

      Hilarity (read police atrocity) ensues

    • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:15PM (#34792980) Journal
      No, but model rocket hobbyists are plotting ways to missile this motherfucker right out of the sky.
      • by arth1 (260657)

        Something like the Spyder III Arctic might work.

    • by LifesABeach (234436) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:20PM (#34793068)
      Miami Beach? Could I, um, have my own drone just kind of fly around looking at "stuff?" I'm thinking Goggle Earth would never be the same...
  • by bugs2squash (1132591) on Friday January 07, 2011 @11:51AM (#34792550)
    doesn't sound like a very long time, do they launch it with an elastic band or something ?
    • Re:40 minutes (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Suki I (1546431) on Friday January 07, 2011 @11:55AM (#34792614) Homepage Journal

      doesn't sound like a very long time, do they launch it with an elastic band or something ?

      That was my observation too. Also, what is the point of being able to go to 10,500 feet if you only have a 40 min. of flight time?

      • You can then extend that to 40 minutes and ~26 seconds before violently crashing the drone at about 250 meters per second.

        • Though I made some miscalculations. That's only the vertical velocity if it were flying horizontal at that height.

      • by nomadic (141991)
        Ehh, no joke, the most dangerous neighborhoods in Miami are right around police HQ. And the courts. It's kind of sad.
        • by Suki I (1546431)

          Ehh, no joke, the most dangerous neighborhoods in Miami are right around police HQ. And the courts. It's kind of sad.

          Maybe Fergie needs to be made aware of this so she can raise awareness.

  • by socsoc (1116769) on Friday January 07, 2011 @11:52AM (#34792576)
    I hope this doesn't complicate Dexter's employment at the department.
    • Dexter works for Miami Metro. It's Horatio Caine, AKA Mr. Sunglasses, who works for Miami Dade Police. Imagine the witty one liners he could hang on a drone. On the other hand, lets not.
  • by splatter (39844) on Friday January 07, 2011 @11:53AM (#34792594)

    Assault on a Police officer with a door knob. Yeah you read that right told Miami police to pound sand at 3 AM after they woke me up talking about a dead body smell (was the refig in the apartment next door which was off and had gone bad) with no warrant. Closed the door and got my ass handed to me when the door knob hit the officer and he claimed I assulted him. Spent the night / next day in MIA prison waiting for bail facing 7 years for assault, & resisting arrest.

    fuck miami, and 'the man' that live there! sorry had to be said.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:13PM (#34792942) Homepage

      Meh, that's nothing: During street protests, it's not uncommon for people to be arrested for assaulting a police officer's knee with their groin.

    • Maybe they can watch the polling stations and make sure people with the same name as ex-convicts won't be purged from the voter list and we could elect someone that won't invade a country by quoting The Transformers or by lying to the people. Someone that wasn't so terrible that for the first time in American history, the population was willing to vote for a half-black man as an alternative.

      Or they could shoot crackheads. *pew* *pew*!

  • So, with the superfluous knowledge about hacking, how long will it be before it is hijacked and goes AWOL from the police?
  • So expect the drone to be shot down around minute 4 in the test flight. Dibs on the fallen cameras and servos! Next invasive technology, this one is compromised.

  • T-Hawk (Score:5, Informative)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Friday January 07, 2011 @11:57AM (#34792674)
    The drone in question is a "T-Hawk". Seen here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honeywell_RQ-16_T-Hawk [wikipedia.org]
  • by mlts (1038732) * on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:05PM (#34792798)

    I'm guessing one use will be following criminals from the air to relay positions. That, and keeping track of a car on a protracted chase, although from what I read, this bird doesn't have that long a radius and run time compared to a helicopter. I wonder if it is cheaper to spin something like this up than get the police in the air, so that is one reason this is being looked into.

  • by schwit1 (797399) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:05PM (#34792804)

    "Honeywell has applied to the FAA for clearance to fly the drone in urban areas. This has never been allowed before, but if it does happen, the Miami-Dade Police Department will be the first police agency in the US to use the technology."

  • Sensor payload? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Lashat (1041424) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:06PM (#34792816)

    I am less worried about flight duration than the sensor payload that Honeywell is installing for Miami-Dade. IR, Thermographic, NightVision, and HD cameras at the very least to make the drone "useful". TFA only mentions "cameras" not what type.

    This statement by police says it all. "It gives us a good opportunity to have an eye up there. Not a surveilling eye, not a spying eye. Let's make the distinction. A surveilling eye to help us to do the things we need to do, honestly, to keep people safe," said Miami-Dade Police Director James Loftus.
    Hmm. "Not a surveilling eye," then "A surveilling eye to help us..." Maybe a typo, but still telling.

    We knew this was coming. http://news.cnet.com/Drone-aircraft-may-prowl-U.S.-skies/2100-11746_3-6055658.html [cnet.com]

    Time to start-up my own residential sheilding supply and installation company. Any investors interested?

  • Please say, "NO" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GooberToo (74388) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:06PM (#34792818)

    I can only hope the FAA is smart enough (funny joke there) to say no. The risk to other aircraft can not possibly be justified. And given that this would likely trigger as a "pop up" means that the pilot and passengers this drone may murder would likely be "at fault." - even if hit from the rear.

    There is absolutely nothing safe about having an idiot cop with a remote control aircraft mixing with air traffic which has can not see and avoid - which is a mandate of the FAA.

    • by PPH (736903)

      Given the FAAs approach to regulation, they will be allowed. Only when the first drone causes a fatal accident will the decision be reversed. If a significant number of drones are deployed before the first fatal accident, the FAA will yield to the "significant negative economic impact" of a complete ban and we'll be stuck with them forever.

  • place your bets everybody as to exactly how this gets worked into one or more CSI episodes

    1 the drone is hijacked: 30 to 1
    2 the drone crashes on somebody: 600 to 1
    3 a primary character takes the controls of a drone for %reason%: 10 to 1

    any takers??

    (offer void in any jurisdiction using US Dollars as currency or funds convertible to same)

  • This is just a cheap version of a police helicopter, which have been used for decades.
  • Surveillance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zouden (232738) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:16PM (#34792984)

    The summary insinuates that this drone will be circling the skies watching the citizens below, big-brother style. But with 40 minutes flight time (and every flight would cost money) it's far more likely this would be used to track fleeing suspects, as a cheaper alternative to a helicopter.

    A solar-powered plane that can stay up for days at a time, or a blimp with cameras, would be much more threatening to our privacy. If the police want me bad enough to send a drone up to track my movements, then the drone is probably the least of my worries.

    • Re:Surveillance (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Yold (473518) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:32PM (#34793272)

      it's far more likely this would be used to track fleeing suspects

      On what? A moped? Its got a (reported) top speed of 42 mph... It seems like a waste of money to me.

      The only sensible use seems to be equipping it with FLIR and using it to find suspects who are hiding outdoors. Even though SCOTUS has ruled that it is unconstitutional to use FLIR for fly-over searches (think indoor marijuana grow operations), I suspect that this is an ulterior motive behind the purchase. In which case, you should be concerned about your privacy because these FLIR cameras can literally peer into your bedroom.

  • has introduced a bill the have the name of the state changed from Florida to Oceania.
  • Our police department just got a radio controlled drone and the damn thing doesn't even have a Visual Basic interface to control it!

    Well you know,

    *Puts on sunglasses*

    There's no use to drone on about it all day.

    YEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    See what I did there, 2 CSI memes in one post, I rock.

  • What I find interesting about surveillance discussions is it seems to be the case that the consensus on /. is that surveillance is OK if it's difficult and expensive to the taxpayers, but it's not OK if it's easy and cheap to the taxpayers.

    For example if you're a suspicious character, it's considered OK if a law enforcement surveillance team stealthily follows you everywhere you go for a week, without your knowledge, meticulously recording everything (at great expense). However, it's considered NOT OK to
    • by Colonel Sponsz (768423) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:53PM (#34793622)

      I'm not saying one is right and one is wrong, but I find the contrast confusing... Is it simply the case that surveillance is OK provided it's difficult? If that's the case, why do we allow helicopters at all? Or in the case of manned surveillance, why are the police allowed to use radios? Shouldn't they have to use call boxes? Either we're OK with the concept, or we're not.

      The difference is that "difficult" surveillance can't be mounted on a massive scale - they actually have to be frugal in its use. They can't go around tracking everyone; they have to be pretty sure they have the right people to follow before committing the resources to it.
      "Easy" surveillance OTOH, can be used to simply monitor everyone. Well, actually, that should read "will" instead of "can". It's basically Murphy's law as applied to surveillance: if the opportunity exists to misuse a law or technology, it will be misused. Surveilling everyone is way easier than bothering with all that pesky "probable cause" nonsense.

      • The difference is that "difficult" surveillance can't be mounted on a massive scale - they actually have to be frugal in its use.

        So moving to following someone in a car (from being on foot or on a horse) was OK because it was still "difficult." Then moving to cars with radios was OK because it was still "difficult." Then moving to cell phones and encrypted radios was OK because it was still "difficult"... Then helicopters was OK because it was still "difficult"... You see my point? Suddenly now we're

  • How long before they crash it? Put me down for 8 months.

  • by b4upoo (166390) on Friday January 07, 2011 @12:48PM (#34793518)

    Considering the proximity of several very busy airports there has to be an awful lot of trust in allowing drones in the area. Miami International Airport among others is right in the center of Miami. We could get a huge oops type of event and it is so hard getting those bodies out of the Everglades.

  • Every time a new gee-whiz technology is created, it is soon used to solve social problems. In Great Britain millions of surveillance camera have failed to dent crime rates [wordpress.com], in spite of a few high-profile successes.

    In education, which is even more fad-driven than crime fighting, deployment of educational tv, audio tapes, laptop computer and other gizmos have failed to engage turned-off students. iPads are the latest gadget. [nytimes.com]. I expect they will be another expensive fiasco.

    There is no substitute for engaged teachers and parents.

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