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A New Human-Seeking Drone, Much Cheaper Than a Predator 178

An anonymous reader writes with this envy-inspiring bit from Gizmodo on the Aeryon Scout Quadrotor: "The drone, packing a camera that can ID a human from almost two miles away (using a standard digital cam or thermal vision), can be hand-assembled. Once in the sky, it gyro-orients itself to track whatever it is you're tracking, can hit speeds of over 30 MPH, and is all controllable with a touch remote. Tap a target, and watch the drone zoom over. It's not going to rain down any Hellfire missiles, but hey, it only weighs a kilogram."
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A New Human-Seeking Drone, Much Cheaper Than a Predator

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  • Can it detect hot chicks?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2011 @07:46PM (#36053228)

    "can be hand-assembled..."

    I can't be the only one whose first thought was, "Well, I can understand not wanting to use a high level language in its firmware, but we've had assemblers for a long time now and they're really pretty good by now."

  • Radar (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Friday May 06, 2011 @07:50PM (#36053262) Journal

    Something that small would be hard to spot with radar, and it does not need to rain down hell fire missiles, a single well places .22 round will neutralize many targets.

    • You're not going to get a well-placed shot from a drone like this. Far too unstable. If it were me, I'd put something like an MP5SD, a M249, an M240 or an M2 on it (depending on size - having not gotten to TFA yet, I don't know which would be best). The last one would probably be best - accurate at long ranges (it was unofficially used as a sniper rifle in WW2), powerful enough to take down small vehicles or light aircraft (including other drones, hint hint), and automatic (so you don't need a stable firing
    • I would have thought the next best thing would be to simply lase the target so the big stuff can be delivered accurately on target - without having some poor grunt in the field having to put his head up. Not sure how big a laser you need to do the job - but can't imagine it's very much weight or power. Looks stable enough to keep a beam tracking on a target. A lased target could be the focal point for various armaments, and would effectively allow the drone to be used to take out targets like tanks, armor
    • Re:Radar (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Saturday May 07, 2011 @01:59AM (#36054788) Homepage

      Why shoot anything. Logically you would tweak the battery so that using high discharge capacitors you could overload it and detonate it as the explosive and fragment source (weight saving whilst increasing destructive payload). So you have a short range, very low cost, aerial mine usable and manufacturable by all and sundry, a mobile IED or with government authorised combatants use it, an assassination device.

      • by Thing 1 ( 178996 )
        I suppose that development would make the terrorist organizations better friends of the civilians, if the terrorists use it to get back at the leaders that sent the war to their lands, rather than just indiscriminately blowing up buildings and killing civilians. Of course, I doubt that outcome; they'd likely use these to target bridges and rail lines.
      • by shish ( 588640 )

        with government authorised combatants use it, an assassination device.

        Totally tangentially -- why is killing hundreds of grunts encouraged, killing hundreds of civilians is frowned upon but tolerated, but killing one specific leader is illegal?

        • with government authorised combatants use it, an assassination device.

          Totally tangentially -- why is killing hundreds of grunts encouraged, killing hundreds of civilians is frowned upon but tolerated, but killing one specific leader is illegal?

          It's not illegal. But leaders don't like it because it tends to invite retaliation in kind. And leaders don't usually lead from the front. That would be dangerous. They prefer to let other people do the dying.

          • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

            Of course in democratic countries the opportunity exists to establish laws where by the leaders take front row as a real test of how desirable they really consider the war ie let's pluck and fry the chicken hawks first and see if the war continues beyond that point or whether non-violent diplomacy will resolve all issues.

            As an aerial mine they can obviously be dropped from altitude and hang around for some time before initiating a target of opportunity attack and if they are stationary resting on a suit

  • by spauldo ( 118058 ) on Friday May 06, 2011 @07:51PM (#36053268)

    OK, so it's cheaper than a predator. It's also completely different than a predator.

    It's like saying a golf cart is cheaper than a Freightliner. It's true, but they don't serve the same purpose.

  • I'm waiting for them to come up with a self-assembling drone.. Now _that_ ought to make some news!
  • iWing!

    Just plug the darn accessory into your iPhone, and throw it into the sky - off you go!

    Did I mention it comes with both black and white?

  • What can possibly go wrong?

  • This sounds like a hunter-killer. So now we've got Bin Laden does that mean we're going after Paul Maud'Dib next?
    • by rossdee ( 243626 )

      That hunter killer was controlled by a Harkonnen agent sealed up in the basement. It did not have an on board computer (computers were outlawed by the Butlerian Jihad)

  • Something wrong with using Mantracker to hunt for people?
    • by slick7 ( 1703596 )

      Something wrong with using Mantracker to hunt for people?

      I am looking for Sarah Conner, I'll be bach.

  • by lymond01 ( 314120 ) on Friday May 06, 2011 @08:18PM (#36053462)

    I wonder if the Middle-Eastern market for crowbars is a good place to invest.

  • Anyone that can afford one can setup a porn site using these things to peer in windows.

  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Friday May 06, 2011 @08:31PM (#36053526) Journal

    After watching the Youtube video of this device, I got very interested. I would love to give it a whirl, to look around the town etc.

    Well done, Canadians. If you have the lack of wisdom to outsource production to China, I might get me one of the cheaper Chinese knock-offs ;) Just kidding.

  • holy crap (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jyunga ( 2040832 ) on Friday May 06, 2011 @08:43PM (#36053582)
    Two Canadian technology posts on slashdot in two days.... WE ARE THE NEXT CHINA!
  • oh, the abuse (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Thad Zurich ( 1376269 ) on Friday May 06, 2011 @08:50PM (#36053626)
    Can you say "Paparazzi"? I knew you could.
  • No Hellfires? Meh! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by md65536 ( 670240 ) on Friday May 06, 2011 @08:52PM (#36053632)

    What's the point of any technology that can't rain down Hellfire missiles?

    That's right! None!

    Anyone who is developing any technology, from baby food to high-powered anti-personnel ordnance, should ask themselves: "How can we monetize this, and how can we weaponize this?"

    • i bet somebody puts a custom scoped rifle or poison dart shooter thingy on it before the year is over...
    • Honestly, outside the military, I could see how this makes sense to you. But in practicality, there are other, more pertinent missions that this UAV would be more suited for. For example, I work on UAVs for the Marine Corps. We're are far more interested in the smaller, more field expedient UAVs that we can operate in theater and provide direct intel to our riflemen brethren. If we need a large, hard target taken out we call other support (cobras, arty, our jets, air force jets etc...). But on the level I w
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2011 @08:52PM (#36053634)

    It can refuel itself and with little more than a dirty sock it can track a target for miles. Best of all you can deploy hundreds of them for less money than a single drone.

  • by Marrow ( 195242 ) on Friday May 06, 2011 @08:54PM (#36053638)

    The real damage would come from much further away.

    • by Marrow ( 195242 ) on Saturday May 07, 2011 @01:07AM (#36054612)

      Say someone lands it on a rubbish heap or something, Its flat, quiet, drab. Camera is running. They watch a house. The target appears in a doorway for a second. Bing. The signal goes out. The target is painted. A global-hawk-predator-whatever that has been sitting on station for the past month refueling in-flight is tasked. Weapons free. The weapon follows in the laser. Boom.
      They could make it smaller with a top mounted camera so it could sit in on a haystack or on top of a barn. With just a fiber-optic camera sticking up. Heck, it could even have a solar panel to keep the camera transmitting for long periods.

  • When packed with explosives, this sounds like a perfect tool for assassination. Make it cheap, decrease noise, increase range, add some further refinement in stealthily bringing it into a location (composite materials?)....

  • The Germans were already marketing these in 2007. [] In fact, Voice of America has already publicly announced (March 2011) that the millitary is using "hummingbird drones" [] in Afghanistan and Pakistan. If the robot spies the size of a hummingbird are already publicly discussed on Voice of America, I would assume they have tick, mosquito, and chigger drones in actual use by now.
  • thirty years, when the technology is so commonplace that every terrorist, assassin, etc. can get one.

    • Anyone with a few hundred bucks can get one NOW. Welcome to the future, enjoy your stay.
  • Out of interest, why does this story have a Canadian flag icon on the front page? It's true the company's Canadian, but other tech stories aren't flagged (heh) by their country of origin -- I don't see the Stars & Stripes gracing every piece about Apple or Oracle.
    • by Phrogman ( 80473 )

      Well the assumption all over much of the internet is that all readers are in the US, and that if something is foreign it needs to be clearly marked that way - this despite the obvious international nature of the internet, the huge numbers of users outside the US currently using it etc. Even /. has to obey this rule it seems.

      As a Canadian, I am well aware that we are quite high tech, have invented or helped invent a lot of today's technology etc. I too was surprised to see the Canadian flag on this article t

    • it's an American web site there's no need to state when something is also American. Just like they write $100 without mentioning if those are USD or AUD or ZWL or ZWR or ZWD, because if they are aren't USD they'll specify what they are.

      And the person who assigns the icon probably couldn't see anything else that fit.

  • Seriously, all you need is a tiny charge and fly it over the person. If people think this won't be weaponized they are fooling themselves.
  • by Mike610544 ( 578872 ) on Saturday May 07, 2011 @12:38AM (#36054530)
    From the Aeyron website "Operational duration: up to 25 minutes."

    In practice it's probably a lot less than that.

    I'm not sure that their scenario of detecting a dork dressed up like a spy stealing my Hyundai has me sold on the concept.
    • by sqrt(2) ( 786011 )

      Yeah I'd say endurance is the weakest part about it, but that'll only get better with battery and motor tech. 30-45 minutes would start to be acceptable. With a top speed of 50 km/h it could only go about 10km before it would have to turn back to get home before running out of juice, and that's with no loiter time once it gets to the target area, which would be all but useless. And that's assuming the 25 minute battery rating is 25 minutes at sustained full speed flight. It probably means 25 minutes at ligh

  • It seems like a sweet way to get "public" pictures if you were in the paparazzi / picture media biz. People are talking about loading it down a load of weapons, but I say, just load it up with extra batteries to get more flight time, and a good camera, and I imagine you'd do quite well following (or doing recon on) anyone.
  • Lame (Score:5, Funny)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Saturday May 07, 2011 @01:55AM (#36054780) Homepage Journal
    No hellfire missiles, much cheaper than a predator. Lame.
  • My worry (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Saturday May 07, 2011 @04:50AM (#36055210) Journal

    My worry as an RC enthusiast (I have three RC helicopters) is when our increasingly paranoid governments see this sort of thing, they are going to start legislating the RC hobby into oblivion because of "fears of terrorists". It really wouldn't be that hard to automate my T-Rex 600, the parts can be bought from Sparkfun Electronics, and governments will fear that an ordinary citizen can build a drone from off-the-shelf RC parts and electronics.

    All of a sudden we're treated as "terrorists" and another avenue of harmless pleasure is closed off or made so awkward (for instance, you need a background check to buy RC parts) that it will destroy the hobby.

    • Welcome to the hobbies of rocketry and pyrotechnics. You can't store a 2 gram electric match without a BATFE approved explosives magazine, or make a 60mg flash cracker without a high explosives manufacturing permet, but if you own a replica muzzle-loader you can store 25 pounds of black powder in your basement.

  • I am tired of the use of that childish phrase to describe anyone being targeted by the military or law enforcement. It's infantilizing, naive and may even contribute to an imperialistic foreign policy.

  • []
    "Military robots like drones are ironic because they are created essentially to force humans to work like robots in an industrialized social order. Why not just create industrial robots to do the work instead? "

  • Anyone purposefully sending them traffic is a fucking reject. Fuck you slashdot.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus