U.S. Air Force promotion video showcases frightening insect-sized killer drones
By End the Lie
In a disturbing promotional video on Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) by the Air Force Research Laboratory, simulated images of insect-sized drones are shown performing everything from extended surveillance both indoors and outdoors to targeting of locations to lethal missions.
While we’ve reported on this type of drone technology before, including a video of the Air Force’s so-called “micro-aviary,” this is apparently the first time that a full promotional video has been released publicly showcasing the capabilities of these types of drones.
Other technological advances include the potential for perpetual flight, drone-based facial recognition technology, solar power, automated tracking technology, cameras capable of capturing over 30 square miles in a single shot, fully automated weapons systems, drone-borne EMP missiles, tiny drones already deployed in Afghanistan, silent drones and much more.
Combine all of that with the fact that drone use is rapidly expanding domestically with over 80 public entities authorized to fly drones, the military using drones and sharing data with law enforcement, at least one National Guard unit using drones, increasingly frequent police use of drones and colleges and universities offering more drone piloting programs to keep up with this surge and you have a disturbing picture.
In this particular video, we see a bird-like drone perched on a power line, drones the size of insects entering a home and, perhaps most disturbingly, a tiny drone carrying out a “direct attack mission.”
We also see a drone much like the one shown here which can be “equipped with incapacitating chemicals, combustible payloads or even explosives for precision targeting capability,” fly up behind a man’s head and place something which explodes, apparently killing him.
According to a feature National Geographic story by John Horgan, “The Drones Come Home,” the researchers at the micro-aviary at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base would not let him see a test flight, instead opting to show him the video (embedded below via the Week).
While the tagline, “Unobtrusive, pervasive, lethal: micro air vehicles,” is disturbing enough, Horgan raises even greater concerns.
Horgan says that while the military rarely discusses the threat of terrorists and criminals using small drones, they do take it seriously and have carried out exercises that suggest it would be quite difficult.
Horgan cites a program called Black Dart which showed both a surface-to-air missile and an F-16 fighter jet unable to take out a two foot long drone. Perhaps even more troubling than those failures is the fact that some say that this leaves only one solution: even more drones.
“The new field is counter-UAVs,” according to Stephen Griffiths, an engineer for avionics firm Procerus Technologies, a company which designed artificial-vision systems enabling a drone to identify and destroy another by shooting it down or simply ramming into it.
“Eventually drones may become smart enough to operate autonomously, with minimal human supervision,” Horgan adds, though he says that Griffiths “believes the ultimate decision to attack will remain with humans.” That’s reassuring.
Unfortunately we now know that the decision to attack can be based on no clear evidence, no substantive due process and a completely secret legal justification.
Thankfully, individuals in cities like Charlottesville, Virginia (along with the state of Virginia itself), Seattle, Washington, and states around the country are fighting back. There is even some hope of action at the federal level as well.
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