MFW June 2013 - Page 4

Again, bit of a mixed bag this issue. Firstly more droning about drones (aargh!) Even heavyweights like the boss of Google, Eric Schmidt, is getting onto the bandwagon. He has warned drone technology proves a serious danger to global security and privacy unless an international treaty is put into place controlling the technology fast. Schmidt today said that the technology for armed unmanned planes will soon pass into the hands of terrorists posing huge security concerns across the globe. He also said that ever expanding drone technology is making smaller and cheaper models, including nano-drones, which could be used by nosy neighbors spying on each other in a dispute. He told The Guardian .. “'You're having a dispute with you neighbor,' he told. 'How would you feel if your neighbor went over and bought a commercial observation drone that they can launch from their back yard. It just flies over your house all day. How would you feel about it?' Personally, I think the horse has well and truly bolted. There’s enough technology and parts slopping around the world right now to last for years, for those with evil intent. But more on that later. Here’s a few other developments: Last week, Idaho’s Republican governor signed a law restricting the use of such pilot-less aircraft by police and other public agencies in a bid to protect privacy rights. The state now requires law enforcement to obtain warrants to collect evidence using drones following in the footsteps of Virginia, which also introduced such a measure. 'We're trying to prevent high-tech window-peeping,' Idaho Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder, sponsor of the measure told Reuters. ‘It's got to be regulated. It's one thing for governments, who have some legitimacy in what they're doing, but have other people doing it...It's not going to happen.' He added that drone technology will become more and more normalized part of warfare. 'It's probable that robotics becomes a significant component of nation state warfare,' he told the newspaper. From the future? “Wired” magazine had a whimsical spoof a little while ago, with a fanciful imaginary title from the future. “Drone & Stream” of March 2025 ! The teaser headlines on the cover include: • • • • 10 best bots for carcass recovery Remote Hunting apps that let you stalk game from anywhere on the planet Review of the Raytheon Longbow UAV Laser-guided hide-piercing ammo. More seriously, I see that the U.S. Navy is inaugurating its first squadron that mixes advanced unmanned drones with conventional aircraft. (But the USAF already has several drone squadrons.) The maritime strike squadron, nicknamed the "Magicians," will be officially launched at the Naval Air Station North Island on Coronado, near San Diego, and will soon be deployed on a USN littoral combat ship. Along with eight manned helicopters, the squadron will include a number of unmanned helicopter drones, known as MQ-8B Fire Scouts, that can track targets at sea or on land. The Fire Scout, built by Northrop Grumman, "has the ability to autonomously take off and land on any aviation-capable warship and at prepared and unprepared landing zones in proximity to the soldier in contact," according to company literature. Northrop Grumman says the unmanned aerial vehicle can operate continuously for up to eight hours while providing coverage in a 125-mile radius of the launch site. Interestingly the Squadron's creation comes 100 years after the formation of the first Navy air detachment. So, what will the next 100 years bring? But back to the Domsday stuff. I find it a bit disturbing that some commentators are continually raising the bogy of terrorists getting drone technology and doing mischief. Maybe, but it’s my personal view that this stuff is dreaming, or wishful thinking, or scare-mongering, or raising Google’s profile, or some other cunning little plan. Why? Simple. All the very “best” terrorist plans have strictly used the KISS principle. Ie . In 1995 Timothy McVeigh simply used a concrete mixer to mix a couple of tons of fertilizer and nitromethane, (Yes, same as we use in “Nitro” engines) put it in a truck, parked it outside the federal building, lit a slow “firework” fuse in a detonator and a small booster, and walked away smartly. On Sept 11 2001, they simply used airline tickets and 69c boxcutters from Wal-Mart. The two recent Tsarnaev loonies in Boston, bought about 3 pounds of black powder from a fireworks shop in New Hampshire and a $19.95 pressure cooker or two from WalMart. Too challenged to find a fireworks shop? Well any halfsmart 12 year old will show you how to DIY. I was amused to see a media laddette express shock at how incredibly simple that seemed to be. Nothing new there. Just this last ANZAC day I was thinking of an old family friend who was at Gallipoli. I recall as a teenager he told me a few things about the horrors there, disease and flies were rife, but food was not too scarce, and it all came in good-sized tins. So, they used to while away the hours by repackaging the tins with stones, bits of metal, and gunpowder, put a short fuse in it, and lob it into the Turkish lines, often only feet away. It’s a sideline, but what amazed me, was that the Tsarnaev family, including the suspected terrorists and their parents, benefited from more than $100,000 in taxpayer-funded assistance — a bonanza ranging from cash and food stamps to housing help from 2002 to 2012, That is astounding beyond my comprehension. Could it become true? Will I be able to hunt grizzlies from my big old easy chair in front of the fire, with my iGun 338? Or, will it be like Popular Mechanics endless predictions of flying cars? Ever since I was a kid, I’ve hankered after one of these flying cars that were apparently just around the corner. Of course, given the mayhem I often see around the local supermarkets, my mind boggles at the thought of flying cars lining up there ! Any bets on which decade this really happen?