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Bird-Shaped Drone Symbolizes New Forms Of Covert Surveillance To Come (mirror.co.uk) 95

One security writer in Somali recently discovered a downed metal drone that had been carefully disguised as a bird, a reminder that drones will bring powerful new forms of surveillance. Slashdot reader Stephen Sellner also shares an article by the CEO of one unmanned systems company who's predicting that the commercial drone industry will create more than 100,000 new jobs and generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy, and suggesting "security of industrial areas (shipyard, storage facility, etc.) can now be augmented by drones to provide a quick eye in the sky."

But it may be inevitable that drones will be used in a variety of unexpected ways. Airbus is also testing the use of drones for quality inspections on their commercial aircraft. In Iowa, a drone helped lead first-responders to a man suffering from a heart attack. And the U.S. wildlife service is planning to drop peanut-butter pellets onto northeastern Montana to deliver vaccines to prairie dogs -- so that they can then in turn be eaten by Montana's population of endangered black-footed ferrets. Any predictions about drone news we'll be seeing in the future?
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Bird-Shaped Drone Symbolizes New Forms Of Covert Surveillance To Come

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  • Clearly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Saturday July 16, 2016 @06:53PM (#52526223) Journal
    These machinations will get better and better, until a roach or mouse sighting will cause alarm on the order of a new level of revulsion.
    • These machinations will get better and better, until a roach or mouse sighting will cause alarm on the order of a new level of revulsion.

      When I read your comment, I immediately thought of the surveillance cockroach used by one of Zorg's underlings in The Fifth Element. Hopefully future real-world iterations will all meet with the same fate.

  • A friend who does a lot of contract work for the government(*) told me that we, the US, are developing a small gliding-bird drone that can deliver poison through a dart where a normal bird's beak would be.

    The use-case is for the bird to perch somewhere waiting (possibly hanging and recharging from power lines), then when the victim is spotted it glides silently towards the person and sticks beak-first into the neck.

    It's got perfect deniability - even if someone catches the drone, it doesn't have "made in th

    • "Even if someone catches the drone" -- well, that seems pretty much like a 100% certainty, for a drone whose stated goal is to crash head-first into something every single time it is used.

      Frankly, this sounds like a laughable idea borne in tinfoil hat country. There are much simpler, stealthier ways to kill someone.
      • Frankly, this sounds like a laughable idea borne in tinfoil hat country. There are much simpler, stealthier ways to kill someone.

        What's simpler than pushing a button? Stealthier, yes. You could shoot them with a poison pellet, for example. But this is frankly toy technology, and it's precisely what futurists have feared since the invention of robotics. It costs quite a bit of money to put boots on the ground to kill people, and those people run the risk of detection or capture.

        Does this mean it's happening? No. But I would be shocked and amazed if our government wasn't working on small killer drones. It's just too tempting a weapon t

        • But I would be shocked and amazed if our government wasn't working on small killer drones. It's just too tempting a weapon to ignore.

          Just the government? I'd say it's too tempting for anyone who wants to kill someone. Terrorists, hitmen, you name it.

        • Except it's not just pushing a button. It's designing, testing, manufacturing and piloting the drone to its target, all of which require a significant investment in new tech for new tech's sake.
    • (*) This is a 2nd hand rumor from someone you don't know on the internet, take it with a grain of salt.

      Pass the salt. Hold the rumor, please.

  • Jobs and revenue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bjwest ( 14070 ) on Saturday July 16, 2016 @07:07PM (#52526271)

    Too bad 99% of those jobs will be in overseas manufacturing and the vast majority of that $82 billion will be into the bank accounts of the wealthy.

    Oh, don't fret little man, the drones will be used on you so you'll not be left out of the loop.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday July 16, 2016 @07:09PM (#52526281)

    I was thinking it's a crow about to damage my crops!

    • "I was thinking it's a crow about to damage my crops!"

      Just turn the logic round, and here's the obvious use for a bird-drone - a scarecrow.

      • They're already used for this - ornithopters made to look like raptors are used at airports and other areas where bird traffic is undesirable.

  • A drone-expert friend tells me that it's a commercially-available toy, not some super-duper cutting-edge technology.
    • by starless ( 60879 )

      This one looks different, but is along the same lines and apparently has been around since at least 2011.
      http://www.prioria.com/maveric... [prioria.com]

      Maveric is a lightweight, single-person portable unmanned aircraft system (UAS) capable of fully autonomous operation.
      [...]
      Single-person portable and operable
      Rugged carbon fiber composite airframe
      Camouflaged bird-like profile

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    • Your friend is a good person but is at once fooled, since many clever countries as the US, Russia, China, India and many others have always hoped to reach the vast wealth and resources of Somalia

      (It may have been used by somebody to spy on somebody, but it's probably a totally-local issue)
  • We'll get our hands on these things too. Better for watching the police, my dear. And without putting yourself within firing range. Sounds good to me..

  • Here's a thought (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday July 16, 2016 @07:52PM (#52526399)
    With the exception of the occasional mad man anything evil that gets done is done for the sake of controlling access to or the use of wealth. People don't generally want to watch random blokes for the fun of it (rule 34 excepted). They're looking to hurt you because you're threatening either their money or their master's money.

    Rather than worry about a symptom of wide spread institutional evil ( surveillance ) why not attack root causes ( wealth inequality and the desire of a lucky few to preserve the privileges such a system grants them).
  • Tomorrows headline: "Bird shaped tracking device dropped by drone leads military to insurgent headquarters"

    Or to random persons house. No problem, there's plenty of missiles...

  • Strangely enough, I was watching 'Eye in the Sky', where such a drone was used.

    Even stranger, the drone in the film was being used to conduct surveillance on Somalis.

    I wonder if the film makers are privy to some informatation that we aren't?

  • I know of a local company that has one in production (for a while) that looks like a hummingbird..this hideous pigeon is old news and not news unless we are talking about antiquated hardware. This is nothing and since the hummingbird drone is not exactly a secret I am sure it is also 'old tech'.

  • Cat copter (Score:4, Funny)

    by rfengr ( 910026 ) on Saturday July 16, 2016 @08:22PM (#52526485)
    Sorry, NOTHING beats the cat copter, well maybe the cat copter chasing the bird drone: https://youtu.be/uJfM23iChzs [youtu.be]
  • I would totally think that thing buzzing in the sky with propellers was a bird. Totally. /s
  • In any conflict zone, anyone worried about drone surveillance would have a strong incentive to kill as many actual birds as possible, just in case any of them were drones (and to make any actual drones more easily detectable).

    If you wanted a way to (further) incentivize the extinction of actual birds, I can't think of a better way then to disguise surveillance drones as birds.

    • See also: Using vaccination programs to collect terrorist DNA.

      • See also: Using vaccination programs to collect terrorist DNA.

        A doctor friend of mine considers this one of the worst, and most unpunishable, war crimes of the afghanistan war. In entire regions of afghanistan and taliban controlled parts of pakistan even being suspected of being a foreign doctor is enough to get you assasinated now. As a result polio and numerous other things are running rampant in parts of the world again, and may well end up killing more people than the military conflict and world terror

  • Could we make it unambiguously legal to shoot these things as long as they aren't actually in flight, then enact legislation requiring them to look like George Bush Junior and Tony Blair?

  • We are going to see some very confused hawks.

    Someone needs to do a study on this. Bird do weird things - will they recognise 'not food' on the first attempted bite, or swallow a bundle of wires and snapped-off plastic bits? If birdlike drones become commonplace (as toys, I'd imagine) then it might have some ecological impact.

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