A somewhat strange story emerged yesterday involving an extremist antigovernment group, a North Dakota sheriff's office, and six missing cows, but there's a much larger story behind this brief legal tangle between local law enforcement and the Brossart family of Nelson Country. When Alex, Thomas and Jacob Brossart were arrested on their farm back in June after allegedly chasing the local Sheriff off their property with rifles, they became the first known U.S.
A sheriff's office outside of Houston is taking a big and potentially controversial step forward with a new piece of law enforcement technology. The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office in Conroe, Texas, is prepping its deputies to fly a $300,000 unmanned ShadowHawk helicopter --paid for with a Department of Homeland Security grant--that someday might carry a weapons payload.
The U.S. military has a data problem. If knowing is half the battle then it's the half the Pentagon should never lose, at least in theory. But in practice, the military's data problem is significant, vexing, and given the current pace of acceleration, technologically intimidating. Just two years ago, there were roughly a dozen NATO aircraft flying surveillance missions over Afghanistan at any given time. Now, there are more than 50 Predator and Reaper drones in the air at once, and all of them are dumping fat streams of data to the ground all the time.
At AUVSI's unmanned systems conference a couple of weeks ago, the FAA paid a good deal of lip service to the idea of integrating robotic, unmanned aircraft into the national airspace. Then they basically told those of us in the crowd that they would have the regulations ready by 2025 (notably, the speakers didn't pause for applause at this time). But not every government is being so patient.
The offer came simply via the subject line of an email: "Want to fly a drone?" It was from Todd Backus of DATRON, a maker of--among other things--military grade radio communication systems and tactical data networking setups based in Vista, Calif. It was a question that didn't require a whole lot of consideration on my part--if there were drones to fly at AUVSI's massive unmanned systems show in Washington D.C. last week, I was going to fly them.
And that's how I end up on a soccer pitch far from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center piloting a small quadcopter drone and quietly praying that we won't be arrested.
After years of development and military funding setbacks, defense contractor Lockheed Martin is finally ready to debut its maple seed-inspired drone. The one-winged, one-foot-long SAMARAI drone just flew a test flight for the Associated Press ahead of its official unveiling at an unmanned vehicle conference next week.
The U.S. military has drones, lots of them if the daily reports coming in from Afghanistan and Pakistan are any indication. And a handful of law enforcement groups--though less than would like--have a drone or two at their disposal. But on the domestic, non-security front, drones live a in a regulatory gray area. Hobbyists can use them, but commercial entities are not supposed to employ drones for any kind of monetary gain, says the FAA.
Last year at the Black Hat and Defcon security conferences in Las Vegas, a former Air Force cyber security contractor and a former Air Force engineering systems consultant displayed their 14-pound, six-foot-long unmanned aerial vehicle, WASP (Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform).
Engineers at the University of Southampton in the UK have designed, printed, and sent skyward the world’s first aircraft manufactured almost entirely via 3-D printing technology. The UAV--dubbed SULSA (Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft)--is powered by an electric motor that is pretty much the only part of the aircraft not created via additive manufacturing methods.
Reporting from the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, Danger Room got some hands-on time with a technology that may or may not have been used in the raid on Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad compound.