We all know there are things they're not telling us (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show), but when it comes to the drones that will soon be spying on us, everything is up front--the companies that make them are actually DISPLAYING THEM in (where else?) Las Vegas--and not just to the military, to law enforcement agencies and to the "highly promising civilian market" (want to spy on your neighbor or spouse?)
In the August 9th edition of the Los Angeles Times, W. J. Hennigan describes some of these drones. One of them is "a small box-like robot (that) creeps across the floor (then) stops, readies itself and catapults about 30 feet into the air." Another is "a basketball-sized drone with whirling rotors (that) hovers 5 feet above the floor." Want to spy on someone in their pool? There's also "a large water tank with an underwater robot darting from side to side."
Hennigan writes: "The landscape has drastically changed at this year's trade show. The exponential growth in the Pentagon budget has been cut, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down, and the small talk here is about deals being made for police helicopters, crop-dusters and hobby aircraft. This is the brave new world of civilian drones--soon to play a big role in the skies over the United States." Should we take it or fight it?
He quotes Gretchen West, CEO of a drone manufacturer, as saying, "It started out as a defense show. Now, we're really seeing a shift to the civil and commercial market."
And it's not all about spying on us (NOTE:--Subscribers can still listen to this show too): Police agencies want drones for air support to spot runaway criminals. Utility companies believe they can help monitor oil, gas and water pipelines. Farmers think drones could aid in spraying their crops with pesticides. That's what they say, anyway.