The Week In Drones: Pepper Spray Paintballs, Celebrity Selfies, And More

Keeping up with the droneses
Desert Wolf

Here’s a roundup of the week’s top drone news, designed to capture the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft.

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The “Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity” is a giant international advertising conference held in Cannes in southern France. This year, they set up a drone that takes vine portraits of people standing on a marked spot, and then tweets them out at the “dronies ” twitter account. The first one includes Patrick Stewart, so there’s that.

Spies On Soccer

The World Cup is happening! In addition to showcasing the skills of athletes from across the world, it’s an opportunity to try new and innovative ways of cheating. The French team formally filed a complaint with FIFA, the sports’ governing body, that someone used a drone to observe the team practicing in São Paulo. The drone appears to be commercial quadcopter, which makes it a relatively unsophisticated spy.

Paintballing Protesters With Pepper

Problems with people picketing and protesting piss-poor conditions at platinum mines, and demanding more than a pittance in pay? There’s now a drone police can use to pelt the proletarians repeatedly with pepper spray in paintballs. Designed by the South African firm Desert Wolf, the “Skunk Riot Control Copter” is an octocopter that can fire 80 pepper balls a minute a second from its four paintball guns, and deplete its entire 4000-ball supply of ammunition in under a minute to disperse a protesting crowd. This is not a great solution, but given South Africa’s history of using excessive lethal force to put down miners’ protests, nonlethal police weapons are at least a step in the right direction.

Monitoring Mali

The United Nations announced this week that peacekeeping forces in Mali will get drones to help keep an eye on the northern part of the country. The drones are likely to be unarmed, and will primarily perform surveillance over the vast and empty stretches of the desert where Tuareg rebels operate.

Pest Patrols

High school students at Career Technology Center in Frederick, Maryland designed a drone that inspects crops for a pest. Using professional design software and a 3-D printer made available through the Real World Design Challenge, students designed drones that could protect crops from the European Corn Borer. One of the designs is a copter with arms, that can land next to corn stalks and use two arms to inspect the stalks for grubs without breaking them. Neat!

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