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UK MOD To Spend 20 Million On Toy Size Spy Drones 44

Posted by samzenpus
from the small-packages dept.
garymortimer writes "The Ministry of Defense (MOD) is making 20 million pounds available for Nano UAS. This is the second story this week in which military organizations seem to be looking for small multicopters. A market to date that has been ignored by the big defense contractors and a space owned by small start ups. No doubt some of those small start ups will soon become big defense contractors!"
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UK MOD To Spend 20 Million On Toy Size Spy Drones

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  • How long they'll get used into ominous use by police force? Not that the CCTV stories in UK reveal much usefulness for them, but... new toys, extra budgets, too tempting to refuse.
    • by e9th (652576) <{e9th} {at} {tupodex.com}> on Thursday March 03, 2011 @01:36AM (#35366054)
      Well, they can't very well let Ogden, Utah [standard.net] and Miami, Florida [reuters.com] get too far ahead of them, can they?
    • by EdIII (1114411)

      Just what immediate pressing military need does the UK have?

      It's not like they are involved in multiple concurrent wars and need these spy drones for military purposes.

      I think they are explicitly going to be used for surveillance at home and not abroad.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        It's not like they are involved in multiple concurrent wars and need these spy drones for military purposes.

        Sure about that one tiger?

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          It's not like they are involved in multiple concurrent wars and need these spy drones for military purposes.

          Sure about that one tiger?

          Don't forget that Iraq was, and Afghanistan is, a peace-keeping/police missions. We're not at war, oh no

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by c0lo (1497653)

        I think they are explicitly going to be used for surveillance at home and not abroad.

        In dire need indeed [dailymail.co.uk]

      • Well considering the current UK terror alert was recently raised to severe and they have already recently foiled terrorist plots such as (http://www.comparecarrentals.co.uk/news/261127639.html). I understand the balance between privacy and not being murdered by superstitious maniacs is unfair on everyone.
        I agree that the UK government mollycoddles its population too much and people are right to treat any moves especially against privacy dubiously but equally would you like to be the one to explain to grie

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      They already have drones [bbc.co.uk] so I'm going to guess "not long".

  • by mjwx (966435) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @01:25AM (#35365996)
    UK MOD to spend 20 million Pounds on toy sized drones which will then be added to every McHappy meal sold in the UK so that they can watch the not quite toy sized British youth.
    • Toy sized drones swallowed by British Air Marshall's at testing grounds, thought to be hors d'oeuvres.
      • by pookemon (909195)
        OMG I laughed at the mental picture of a member of the Brass choking having inhaled one of their spy drones...
        • by mjwx (966435)

          OMG I laughed at the mental picture of a member of the Brass choking having inhaled one of their spy drones...

          Imagine the recovery effort.

          "Captain, drone 6 is emerging"
          "Very good Leftenant, alert the recovery teams and let me know when we have splashdown."

    • UK MOD to spend 20 million Pounds on toy sized drones which will then be added to every McHappy meal sold in the UK so that they can watch the not quite toy sized British youth.
      --
      s/toy/Queen Mary/ FIFY
      Not that the little fat bastards on this side of the pond are immune to the siren song of the fast food .
      Since we seemed to have invented it. Sorry earth..
  • by MikeTheGreat (34142) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @01:35AM (#35366046)

    No doubt some of those small start ups will soon become big defense contractors!"

    Or they'll be bought by big defense contractors, and the existing big defense contractors will continue to be the big defense contractors....

    • No doubt some of those small start ups will soon become big defense contractors!"

      Or they'll be bought by big defense contractors, and the existing big defense contractors will continue to be the big defense contractors....

      More likely they'll be papered around with overbroad patents, force out of business by frivolous litigation, and the big boys will pick up the "intellectual property" for pennies on the dollar.

  • How long till they're available to public, so I can put a frickin laser beam on it.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      How long till they're available to public, so I can put a frickin laser beam on it.

      they're available to the public now! ;-)
      http://www.asctec.de/?locale=en_US

    • by Slacker (3964)

      How long till they're available to public, so I can put a frickin laser beam on it.

      You think it won't come with a laser pre-installed?

      If you want a pretty neat one right now, check out the Parrot Drone.

      http://ardrone.parrot.com/parrot-ar-drone/usa/ [parrot.com]

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The A.R. Drone is a toy.

        Copters like the ones being sought in this defense contract are already developed...

        Check out UPENN's GRASP lab.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvRTALJp8DM

        • by peragrin (659227)

          The AR drone with a bigger battery pack and longer range(no wifi) is exactly what they want out of the devices. nimble enough to go inside, stable enough for winds.

          the AR drone might be a toy but it is a better package than most of them so far. especially for urban environments.

  • You'll either end up in prison or buried in a land fill.

  • No doubt some of those small start ups will soon become^W be bought by big defense contractors!"

    Fixed that for you.

  • ... oh, this isn't about some IRC mod.

    Nevertheless, same rules apply.

  • That's nice and all, but this [huffingtonpost.com] looks much less like a drone. Cute, when you don't consider the implications of a virtually invisible spy drone.
  • UT MOD? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    OK - I know I might sound a bit ignorant declaring this, but this story really excited me because I read the title as; "UT MOD spends $ on 20 million mini helicopters."

    I know what you might be thinking - 20 mill mini copters wouldn't be nearly enough for a one night frag fest - but seriously; tiny cameras and laser lights to simulate in the real world ---- it would just be so Epic!

    but then I realized the last time Epic and Unreal crossed paths and then I realized this was just a wasteful military scheme to

  • by HonestButCurious (1306021) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @03:15AM (#35366428) Journal
    Defense is the American spelling.
  • Note, this sounds very much like a follow on from the competition the MoD ran in 2008, focused on Afghanistan issues. £20m is chump change anyway. http://www.science.mod.uk/engagement/grand_challenge/grand_challenge.aspx [science.mod.uk]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 03, 2011 @06:03AM (#35366854)

    The US and indeed, nations around the world, are implementing or preparing to implement aircraft regulations for UAV's (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), which includes the model aircraft of us radio controlled airplane hobbyists. While there isn't much in common with the typical model aircraft and a Predator drone with a Hellfire Missile, there is a LOT in common between these new nUAS's and a model aircraft. Just look at the thing. I have seen hobbyists at my local hobby field fly similar hobby planes they purchased for a few hundred dollars that already fly 20 minutes and longer. In case you weren't aware, the aircraft model hobby is moving in huge numbers from gas powered planes to the new LiPo battery powered planes. There are now battery-electric motor combinations that match the power of every gas powered model airplane engine in the world. And my own batteries easily keep my planes in the air for 20 minutes each, same as these military specifications. There is a good overview of upcoming regulatory actions worldwide, on the "sUAS News" website: http://www.suasnews.com/uas-regulations/.

  • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Thursday March 03, 2011 @06:38AM (#35366958) Journal

    On a tangental note, I enjoy flying radio control helicopters, I have three of them (a "micro sized" heli, T-Rex 250, with a rotor disc of about 25 cm diameter, weighing about 350g), a 500-size and a 600-size (which weighs about 2.5kg, IIRC with a rotor diameter of 1.6 metres), all of them are collective pitch and extremely agile (they are all aerobatic models). All of them are electric too.

    What worries me a little is that the wider political world will see the small drones, which don't look an awful lot different to a model RC heli, then start invoking the "terrorism!" bogeyman and trying to ban/restrict the RC flying we do or making us go through a painful registration process to be able to buy parts or helis. It won't take a huge leap of imagination for some politician to think that my T-Rex 600 could be some sort of threat to a public figure if fitted with an FPV (first person view) system, and then we have yet another avenue of pleasure closed off due to the war-on-terror :-(

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Well unless batteries get 100x better in the next few years it is hard to see how these little things could be used for military or terrorist use. Considering how slowly battery technology has evolved so far despite the immense demand from mobile devices I can't see that happening.

      I too have a few model helis. The typically take 30-40 minutes to charge and fly for around 10 minutes.That is radio controlled, no on-board computer or video cameras etc. Very low weight too, no cargo or gadgets. The problem with

  • "UK MOD... (Score:4, Funny)

    by msauve (701917) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @08:42AM (#35367324)
    "UK MOD To Spend 20 Million On Toy Size Spy Drones"

    What will the rockers [wikipedia.org] counter with?

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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