There's no question that the future of warfare, espionage, and clandestine operations is moving rapidly toward reliance on drone aircraft. But should citizens grow restless when this technology moves into the private sector? A German drone maker claims Google is trialing one of its drones, a battery-powered surveillance quadcopter previously used by UK police and special forces. What the search giant and alleged Wi-Fi data collector plans to do with the drone is unclear, but it seems likely that this isn't going to sit well with privacy advocates.
The drone, made by Microdrones GmbH, can stay in the air for more than an hour, photographing large swaths of territory autonomously as it goes. It can also hover, providing aerial surveillance over a single target area for just as long.
Google's interest in such a drone is most likely its ability to supplement its Google Earth service, which currently relies on aerial and satellite photos to overlay Google Maps with actual bird's eye images of the earth. But Google is in hot water -- particularly in Europe -- for its collection of personal Wi-Fi data by its army of Street View cars that drive around collecting all those street images provided by that service. Street View itself has been called an invasion of privacy because it photographs people without their knowledge or consent.
It's tough to make a case that shooting photos on a public street is an invasion of privacy, but adding an aerial surveillance drone to the mix could stir the ire of privacy advocates and could raise legal issues in some countries as well. Assuming Google is only toying with the idea of raising a drone air force to provide cheap and up-to-date aerial images for Google Earth, this doesn't seem like such a big deal.
But given the fact that Google has a history of prompting privacy complaints and that the drone it acquired was designed with a military/surveillance nature, it will be interesting to see what shakes out of this wrinkle in the Google story. UK aircraft regulations have already been amended to reflect the new and growing role of surveillance drones in society and the FAA is currently considering how the U.S. might integrate commercial drones into American skies. Somewhere out there privacy rights, aviation law, and commercial interests are going to collide, and should Google roll out a fleet of camera-laden drone aircraft, the ensuing reactions of citizens and state could mark the preliminary steps in defining which direction our drone culture is heading.
I think when people realize this could take a bird's eye picture of them skinny dipping in their supposedly private pools & hot tubs will get citizens up in arms!
One step...one small step toward complete technological enslavement... for man kind
Orrwell got it wrong it is not big brother who sees all its google
Well...they would make for nice aerial targets.
"We Entertain When It Rains"
Exactly. this will be a much more fun and challenging target than those Google Streetview vans.
"Don't come around here no more,
Whatever you're looking for.. "
lol are people forgetting suck things as potato guns, im sure it would knock one of these out of the sky.
@Smeger - I was thinking about Orwell while reading this article too lol
It seems that we are increasingly leaning toward a society where there will ALWAYS be some sort of eyes watching - and gathering data about what they see.
But yeah, I agree - these would make great targets for shooting practice
Well despite the rumors, im not a lawyer, but im pretty sure that when your in public, people can take pictures or record and its not illegal.
However, when your not in public, say your home or backyard, i think it may cross a line depending on the case.
Such as, say you have a window to your restroom in the back yard and no one can see in, but the drone happens to get an angle that shows you naked or sitting on the pot and uses it for street view. Then it has been posted on the web and in google earth and maps for hte world to see. That I could see a major case for.
Now I think the FCC should force Google to blur faces and information such as license plates of vehicles.
Also, if I was in my back yard, and I saw one of those copters buzzing around taking pictures and it was in range. I would use my pellet gun to take it out.
What is google gunnah do, sue me? im poorer than dirt, it would cost more in lawyers to sue me than what they would recover, plus I would counter sue and go to the media about my privacy rights. The bad publicity alone would make them think twice.
Maybe a paintball gun would be better, more dammage.
Im not worried, they want to photograph my junk, go ahead.
This is not a new technology it's been around a while. I remember these being available to the public from RC Copters over 3 years ago.
Even though this type of technology could be used for a number of different purposes, whether you like it or not, robotic drone surveillance is going to happen. They are just going to get smaller and less noticeable to the naked eye. Pretty soon they will have the ability to be a bird on the power line outside your window. I saw a great video the other day describing how this type of robotic bird is already well on it's way to becoming a reality. I'll post the link below if you would like to see more for yourself.
Wow! I was just on the company's website before closing my browser and then opening up Google News and seeing this link on the right hand side. The caption and news is a bit deceiving, for the md-4 200 model has a 20 minute runtime while the md-4 1000 has a 70 minute run time. I can't help but wonder if these details were missing due to the rush to be the first in reporting this. So, which model is Google testing? It's scary to know this could be used for too many things to mention. Maybe I should use microdrones to record military training at the Marine Corps base I work at, saving the government thousands over their current money draining video recording plans. If anyone wants to invest in such a business then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I saw an excellent RC helicopter made by Vario.
Check them out using the keyword Vario on youtube or go to the website vario-helicopter.de
well google is on the path to take over the world and know exactly what were doing at all times.
Google would not do something so obvious as send up a bunch of spy 'bots on American Citizens. They are too easy a target like everyone here knows. I doubt they're a red herring for more covert technology because only the gov't does that.
It possible that these bots will be used for Google bat caves, Google jungles, Google forests, Google zoos, Google emergencies, etc.
I doubt the Google spybot thing will happen, but if it does, we only need to pull a "John Connor" by capturing it, reprogramming it, and sending it back to Google to spy on them.
South Korea also has an issue with Google, read about it the other day.
As for the Drone, it looks a lot like this toy from 2007:
Oh wow, can that be true, Google actually eves dropping on civilians. Isn't Google supposed to be this super good company.
Oh that's right, it's good marketing to say you are a good company then turn around and do things like this after you become huge and arrogant.
So not only is google selling people's searches to the govt. But now they're building machines to spy on us too.
Because this is a statement from the CEO himself:
"In a surprising statement to CNBC, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told reporter Maria Bartiromo, 'If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.' This will only fuel concerns about Google's behavior as it becomes an ever more powerful gatekeeper of information; though Google says it is aware of these concerns and has taken steps to be transparent to users about the information that is stored."
lol @ pulling a 'john connor'.
i was thinking about all the awesome stuff that's inside if you did capture it. you know it has gps tracking so where it goes down, the google 'men in black' will follow, wanting their stuff back. i only wonder if it transmits the images, or stores them until it returns to base where they are downloaded. potato gun is fun idea as it might preserve some of the electronics better than using bullets to take it down, but the repercussions of missing, when launching a potato.. if you hit, good job, tater salad. if you miss, it comes down a half mile away and lands somewhere, hopefully not someone's face.
It may seem laughable that anyone would want to look at an aerial view of my house and backyard but just recently at my work (Corrections) I was having a discussion with a couple of the young burglars in my care and they enlightened me on why they would.
They were quite happy with Google's efforts as, even though the aerial views were 7 or 8 years old and the street view was 3 or 4 years old, they were able to map out an entry and exit plan of certain houses in certain areas they sought to target. This has proved a great aid to them, just about as good as the swag bag
You can tell when they're just some stupid advertiser when
The name is the name of the business
It's their only comment
They have the website in the comment
But the products look pretty awesome lol
But... This is Google, and Google is only for the advancement of the human race as we know it! Its GOOGLE we're talking about!