Letters

Letters 07-21-2014

Disheartened

While observing Fox News, it was disheartening to see what their viewers were subjected to. It seems the Republicans’ far right wing extremists are conveying their idealistic visions against various nationalities, social diversities or political beliefs with an absence of emotion concerning women’s health issues, children’s rights, voter suppression, Seniors, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid...

Things That Matter

All of us in small towns and large not only have the right to speak on behalf of our neighbors and ourselves, we have the duty and responsibility to do so -- and 238 years ago, we made a clear Declaration to do just that...

An Anecdote Driven Mind

So, is Thomas Kachadurian now the Northern Express’ official resident ranter? His recent factfree, hard-hearted column suggests it. While others complain about the poor condition of Michigan’s roads and highways, he rants against those we employ to fix them...

No On Prop 1

Are we being conned? Are those urging us to say “yes” to supposedly ”revenue neutral” ballot proposal 1 on August 5 telling us all the pertinent facts? Proposal 1 would eliminate the personal property tax businesses pay to local governments, replacing its revenue with a share of Michigan’s 6 percent use tax paid by us all on out-of-state purchases, hotel accommodations, some equipment rentals, and telecommunications...

Fix VA Tragedy

The problems within the Veterans Administration identified under former President Bush continue to hinder the delivery of quality health care to the influx of physically wounded and emotionally damaged young men and women...

Women Take Note

I find an interesting link between the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby and the crisis on the southern border. Angry protesters shout at children to go home. These children are scared, tired, hungry and thirsty, sent to US prisons awaiting deportation to a country where they may very likely be killed...


Home · Articles · News · Features · Peekaboo Drones
. . . .

Peekaboo Drones

Harley L. Sachs - July 12th, 2010
Peekaboo Drones on the prowl
By Harley L. Sachs
If you travel to England these days you will be under police
surveillance, but you knew that. London is reputed to have about
45,000 surveillance cameras. Some of the video clips were broadcast in
the follow-up to the London subway bombings. Sifted out of millions of
frames of video, the clips showed the bombers doing their practice
runs, etc. But now the British cops have another tool, the AR100B
surveillance flying drone made by the AirRobot company.
The AR100B is about the size of an automobile hub cap, is battery
operated, and comes equipped with a heat sensor so it can follow you
even in heavy fog, as it did in Merseyside when the gadget was used by
the police to pursue and nab a 16-year-old car thief who left the
vehicle and hid in the bushes. The lad was arrested, but he may get
off if his defense is that the police illegally used the AR100B
without a license!
Seems that these drones can’t legally fly around without Civil
Aviation Authority approval. That’s the argument used by civil
libertarians who say enough is enough when it comes to surveillance.
European controllers of air space have yet to decide on the legality
of these flying drones. Until they come to some agreement, the drones
have been temporarily grounded. Maybe a policeman needs a pilot’s
license to control one? Seems unlikely, because people fly
radio-controlled model planes all the time. The AR100B isn’t that much
different from a radio-controlled model helicopter, though it
resembles some kind of metal insect. There’s nothing pretty about it.
If anything, the AR100B looks sinister.

SPECIAL GLASSES
Air Robot isn’t the only company making them. Air Power Systems has one, too.
The Ar100B is operated at a range of up to 1,500 feet. In Merseyside
the police quickly assembled theirs and the operator could “watch” its
progress with special glasses even though the drone was out of sight
in the fog. The drone can whisper along under its four
counter-rotating rotors at up to 30 mph and use satellite GPS for its
location.
It can hover, take off vertically, fly backwards or forwards, and
doesn’t have to be in sight of the operator.
It sounds like science fiction of the 1940s, robots hovering outside
your fourth floor window watching, watching, but as we have seen,
almost anything that can be imagined can be accomplished, short (so
far) of your being able to step into a phone booth in New York and
dial yourself to London.
But the snoopy $60,000 drones are themselves being watched. The web
site “Big Brother Watch” is defending the public against these ever
encroaching surveillance practices. Seems there are all sorts of
surveillance gadgets. How else, for instance, can one inspect an oil
pipeline from the inside?

BIG BUCKS
Still, considering budgetary problems, what police department can fork
over $60,000 for what looks like little more than a toy? And wouldn’t
it be embarrassing if it tangled with a power line or got caught in a
tree like a kite?
To overcome public prejudice against government snooping, Air Robot
says their drone has multiple uses (besides peeking through third
story bathroom windows). Their web site lists reconnaissance, search
and rescue, intelligence, documentation, inspection, use by fire
fighters, law enforcement, the military, and special operations
forces.
Certainly, it would be useful for remote inspection of hazardous or
radioactive sites. Chernobyl comes to mind.
Since various censors can be attached to the AR100B besides a heat
detector, it can carry a Geiger counter, receptors for various forms
of radiation, such as radio, X-rays, etc. Video and still cameras can
be mounted on it. And of course it can be used day or night. It’s not
just for chasing 16-year-old car thieves through the bushes.

 
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