Silent Falcon: the new long-distance solar-powered electric surveillance drone

By End the Lie

The Silent Falcon drone (Image credit: Images compiled from Silent Falcon UAS Technologies official specification sheet)

The fact that there are military bases across the United States from which drones can and will be operated from combined with the fact that military drones are already being used in concert with law enforcement is disturbing enough.

It just gets worse when we consider the mind-bending future of drone technology, the ability to use lasers to keep drones airborne indefinitely and the constantly growing surveillance capabilities including threat assessments and facial recognition.

A new drone has been unveiled by Silent Falcon UAS Technologies, out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, which utilizes proprietary advancements in a wide variety of systems in order to create “a tactical UAS [Unmanned Aerial System] and sensor system with capabilities that exceed any UAS in its class,” according to Silent Falcon’s press release.

The drone was first shown at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, which occurred from August 6-9, 2012.

Silent Falcon UAS Technologies is collaborating with a company called Bye Aerospace out of Denver, Colorado on this project in an attempt to create a compact, tactical drone which is “man-portable,” meaning small enough to be carried by a soldier or operative.

They are seeking to create this system in order to carry out “longer duration intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.”

The Silent Falcon drone leverages what appears to be a pretty impressive variety of unique and advanced technologies including new electrical propulsion systems and new systems to capture, store and manage solar energy.

Furthermore, the Silent Falcon will leverage cutting edge electro-optical and infrared sensors – systems which are an absolute must-have on an advanced surveillance platform like this – along with advanced target identification and tracking systems.

It will also employ unique capabilities for target image and data capture and transmission in order to out-perform any similar drone, at least according to the company behind the Silent Falcon.

“After over two years of development, we are excited to bring this extraordinary sUAS [small Unmanned Aerial System] to market,” said John Brown, the CEO of Silent Falcon UAS Technologies.

“We believe we have introduced truly disruptive technological innovation to the sUAS market, and are proud to introduce Silent Falcon, the UAS that embodies the latest aerospace, electronic and sensor technologies to enable it to ‘Fly Silent, Fly Longer and See More,’” added Brown.

The CEO of Bye Aerospace, George Bye, indicated that it is the combination of all of these groundbreaking technologies in a single drone that makes it so remarkable.

“The synergy of several new technologies made this remarkable solar/electric drone possible,” said Bye.

“Research results are confirming breakthroughs in a very quiet aircraft and unprecedented electric flight persistence,” he added.

If this can indeed result in persistent drone flight – perhaps combined with the laser technology mentioned above – we could very well see drones conducting surveillance non-stop.

One must also wonder if this type of technology could also be combined with the silent drone technology currently being pursued by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA) in their Great Horned Owl Program.

Whatever direction this technology goes, military or commercial, it shows just how much the field is moving forward with surprising alacrity.

For people like me who are concerned about the privacy impact of the widespread use of drones, this type of small, solar-powered drone is hardly comforting.

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