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View Detroit Through the Mechanical Eye of a Drone

Written by on Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

If I may channel Paul Revere for a moment: The drones are coming! The drones are coming!

Drones are in right now. If they could sing, they’d be Justin Bieber or Adele. If they could play basketball, they’d be Kobe Bryant. But unlike here-today-gone-tomorrow celebrities, drones are here to stay.

At least, that’s what everybody thinks is going to happen. All we can really do is speculate because drones aren’t really zipping through US airspace by the thousands yet, but at this point it seems like an inevitability. Drones always seem to be in a not-too-distant future, as if we can see the shadow of one that is lingering just around the corner. Sure, drones are being used all over the world right now and some are even in US airspace, but it will be a while before we reach critical mass and transition from “drones will be” to “drones are.”

Today, it feels like we’re just a little bit closer to that future. For technology manufacturers and police organizations, it probably feels like a kid’s just gotten one day closer to the beginning of summer break. For civil rights activists, it probably feels one one day closer to the electric chair.

That second group has been getting the attention of politicians like Jeff Landry (Rep-LA). He reported that his constituents are wringing their hands over drones: “there is distrust amongst the people who have come and discussed this issue with me about our government. It’s raising alarm with the American public.” Landry recently added a provision in a defense buy tadalafil prices spending bill that will limit the amount of information that drones could collect without a warrant.

Similarly, Rep. Austin Scott (Rep-GA) and Sen. Rand Paul (Rep-KY) introduced bills that will force users of drones to acquire a warrant before using the information to pursue a criminal investigation. Rep. Rush Holt (Dem-NJ) wants to take it a step further by creating a law prohibiting the Department of Homeland Security from arming drones. Drone errors have led to wrongful deaths in the Middle East, so it’s reasonable to fear a similar event on native soil.

These politicians will have a true challenge ahead of them. Congress formed the Unmanned Systems Caucus, a pro-drone 60-man group that is backed by Lockheed Martin and General Atomics, two heavy hitters in the drone industry. They’ve got until 2015 to set up a plan that will attempt to integrate 30,000 drones into US airspace.

That may be a few years off, but we don’t have to continue talking about drones in the future tense. Are you ready to get hit with a solid reminder of just how incredibly close we are to domestic, private drones?

Behold: Detroit through the eyes of a drone.


This video was made by a hobbyists who strapped a camera to his quadrotor drone. The type of technology used to gather this footage isn’t high tech at all. You could make one yourself for about $300.

Drone technology is already catching on. It’s only a matter of time before they’re as commonplace as a plane flying overhead.

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