Anyone following the news out of America's Af/Pak engagement knows that drones are being used increasingly – some say alarmingly so – to ferret out and eliminate militants along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. But if drones can track militants hiding in the Pakistani hills, why can't they track a celebrity in Hollywood Hills? A celebrity-photo agency is developing a camera-equipped paparazzi drone that could soon be tracking and terrorizing celebrities in public and at their homes.
As aviation goes, of course, drones are the next big thing. The military is training up drone pilots and purchasing unmanned aerial vehicles at unprecedented rates, and being the military they've drafted a fairly stringent set of rules for how those drones can be used. In the civilian space, those rules are far less defined. The FAA limits the domestic use of drones to those operated by the governent – that is, they're not cleared for commercial use.
But there is a gray area: recreational drone use. The FAA hasn't taken up the use of recreational drones, which can be purchased on the Web or built at home using open source designs available for download. The FAA suggests – but does not require – these drones stay below 400 feet, stay clear of airports and other aircraft, and otherwise practice common sense. But they're perfectly legal, and that loophole could provide lawyers a means to justify drone use for everything from airborne celeb stalking to the tracking of cheating spouses.
Of course, such behavior could ruin the lax recreational drone rules for everyone. Such use will certainly open up inquiries into privacy issues, and that in turn could lead to tighter, more concrete rules from the FAA or other regulators.
Then again, the door could swing the other way. With so much drone technology pouring into the marketplace – both military and civilian – the capabilities of the aircraft are expanding from streaming video to actually locking onto a specific target and tracking it through an urban landscape. The day might not be far away when small, unmanned aircraft sporting cameras and other sensor technology are a regular part of civil security measures (think London's street corner security cams, but mobile) or even used by parents to track and monitor children when they're away from the home.
Splash News, the celeb-photo agency developing its own drone is less concerned with security and more concerned with taking paparazzi off the street (where they are something of a public menace in their cars) and and into the skies. So while we wait for the civilian drone revolution, we should at least reap the benefits of a spike in celebrity sunbathing pics.
Ultimate Spy Gear toy!!! And First Comment!!!
I see a niche market for anti-spy-drone tech. Think lasers with targeting that fry the image sensors of cameras on these drones. Think also, drones equipped with steel-net canons that can stalk these papparazi drones and shoot them down... and last but not least, drone sniper turrets on rooftops.
This is absolutely worthless. Being in the papparazzi is pathetic and they need to let go of other peoples lives and get one themselves.
What happens when it runs out of power in the middle of the air :)?
Not just for the paparazzi.Theres a whole consumer base within the creepy stalkers,and child molesters demographic that this could be sold to.
For under $150...Wild Planet has a RC toy with color video, night vision, and user programmable capabilities:
Forget the celebrities...no one is safe!!!!
"We Entertain When It Rains"
Jeesh ... I really do (now) wish to apply as a Signals Intelligence Analyst, with the FBI, the NSA, or the FCC !
I mean ... Imagine having the tedious job of "channel-surfing", amongst all the lascivious cosmopolitan hi-rise drone feeds ... And, could we please pass a law that all drones must be equipped with low-light HD . .. Fun!
I am your man !
blaxpear is right. Watchdog drones trained for attack, legally certified. They'll have to hash out the legal electronics or optics allowed for drones, probably in the Congress; and legal countermeasures as well. Right now someone can spy pretty efficiently for the cost of a few days' study and a few bucks at Radio Shack. The tech war has reached the populace in yet another medium.
Oh great, now every homeowner has to worry about his airspace and prolly pay a tax for thier own no-fly zones.
and this looks like another thing the secret service will have to worry about.
if people had problems with google maps, just wait for this.
I predict these will be prohibited except for licenced operators.
Is it hard to scramble all the frequencies use by model plane? Don`t need to be powerfull, a transmitter locate on the roof of the house we want to protect emit a low power scrambling signal and if the plane come at proximity it loose control. Some of the model plane use autopilot base on GPS, so GPS scrambler could also be use.
So the celebs will need anti-paparazzi-drone drones. Take back your air space.
I think drones should only be used for the military and police. The police could use them to track down subjects and bust in on big drug deals and other illegal activites, while civilians use the drones to stalk one another.
A 12 gague, some 7 shot, and "Pull!"
"Honestly, officer, I thought that the drone was targeting me to attack me. How was I to know that it was only a camera and not a weapon platform at that distance?"
@Oakspar77777 - stole my words. That's what I was thinking.
So the question is who owns the air space over my head?
Well, it really is not that different than camera phones ... All the up-skirting and down-blousing, etc.
In Texas, we have passed a state law, for such acts, and the charge is called "Improper Photagraphy".
You can get up to TWO YEARS in a state prison if you are busted with any sort of voyeuristic recordings.
Live, private feeds are (apparently) not as bad, so long as no recordings were made. (some guy who owned a bikini shop, with a live feed from the dressers to his office, got off scott-free).
Considering alot of these are fancy RC aircraft with a digital camera wired into it I forsee regulation issues. It's only a helicopter... but now after this camera is ziptie'd on it's a drone!
I hear some more groaning from celebrities.
What would be the best way to take down one of those. I'm thinking bow and arrow. Simple, easy, and effective. :P
These things are visible, transmit RF, contain EMF's, might appear on radar and probably make some noise. They are detectable, so I would set up shop and wait... then deploy my own drone, (or RC jet equiped with LASERS !) and shoot it down. If it's too close, shotguns should work well too !!! Exploding model rockets... pet Raven... chase it with ultralight plane... high pressure water jet...
Yes ! We need jobs !!