Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Better to Write You Tickets With, My Dear

Quoth the Dark Wraith:

Apparently these drones launch off a catapult, and are captured mid flight without needing a runway.

...Oh, good readers, you SO have to read this story out of Houston about police doing a secret test/demonstration of those unmanned military spy drones for use in civilian policing. Not only did the Houston Police Department try to keep the media from finding out about the big shindig, but they surrounded the test areas with cop cars; and when they realized that a news team was filming the whole thing from a helicopter, they even lied through their teeth that the FAA had restricted the flight area. (Knowingly misrepresenting a federal rule is, by the way, not only stupid, it's unlawful; so here we have a police department of a major American city willfully breaking federal law.)

Video here

...Just read the article. By the end, you'll see the Houston police representatives dancing all around, doing everything they can to avoid admitting to what this latest militarization of civilian law enforcement is all about. And once you've finished reading the article, ask yourself which candidates for local, state, and/or national office are promising that they'll stop this whole, Orwellian madness right in its tracks. (PREDICTION: I'll bet you end up saying, "None that I can recall.")

What the gullible Houston police probably didn't realize is that Insitu, Inc., the company that makes the drones, likely regards all the publicity as a plus.

This is the basic problem with all the DARPA-bankrolled projects: even top secret technologies are marketable for the companies that develop them.

And eager to market they are. Here's what they say on their own site:

...Insitu's people and products bring unique capabilities and benefits to our customers:

Experience—Over 60,000 ScanEagle™UAV flight hours in theater since 2004

Service—Our growing team is experienced, seasoned, innovative, and responsive like no other

Endurance—Over 20 hours possible per flight, day & night

Low Cost—Economical operations and systems permit selective expendability

Persistence—Insitu's inertially stabilized camera turret, plus endurance, plus Insitu's ObjectTracker target tracking technology, keep objects of interest in view

Weather—Wide envelope. Reliable operations in winds over 35 knots, through significant precipitation, and beneath clouds

Crosswind—Good. Operates in crosswinds that ground other UAVs, needs no runway

Runway—None. Unprepared terrain or shipboard operations made easy with Insitu's SuperWedge™ Launcher and SkyHook™ Retrieval System

Stealthy—Nearly impossible to hear or see an Insitu UAV even at close range

Modular—Modular design means components are easily replaced in the field

Lean—Small, light weight UAV, compact ground support equipment, no runway, and autonomous operations mean low personnel requirements and very small footprint

Expandable—Avionics bay has available slot for easy integration of new UAV payloads...

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