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Drone Guides Fuel Shipment to Alaskan Town 140

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the tracking-terrorist-polar-bear-cell dept.
pigrabbitbear writes with an excerpt from an article at Motherboard.tv about a non-evil use for unmanned aircraft: "Ask anyone in Nome, Alaska right now how they feel about surveillance drones and you'll likely get unequivocally high praise. Had a remotely-piloted surveillance aircraft not been monitoring Bering Sea ice flows over the past week an emergency shipment of 1.3 million gallons of oil may not have reached the iced-in, snow-drifted town as soon as it did. ... The drone, which was launched from Nome's shores by University of Alaska – Fairbanks Geophysical Institute researchers, isn't the sort of eye-in-the-sky most often associated with the U.S.'s various hulking, 40-foot wing-spanning reconnaissance planes ... The Aeryon Scout micro unmanned aerial vehicle resembles a 'smoke detector with wings and legs,' according to the Anchorage Daily News, and is part and parcel of a rapidly expanding fleet of mid- to micro-sized sky robots being flown domestically for all manner of tedious or risky intelligence gathering gigs."
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Drone Guides Fuel Shipment to Alaskan Town

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  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday January 16, 2012 @07:57PM (#38719632)
    It's not the drones that people have a problem with; It's how they're used. No amount of positive publicity on their 'good' uses can erase the fact that many, if not most, law enforcement agencies envision an armada of cheap surveillance drones monitoring everyone and everyplace they decide they don't like. Protesting wall street? Drones. Add in the crowd-control microwave emitter for only an additional $2,999. How about some drones patrolling over the freeways during rush hour, equipped with a radar gun? Now an officer can write tickets for anyone speeding over a several mile stretch of road, rather than just a particular point. Only $1,599 after mail in rebate. The list goes on.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jhoegl (638955)
      Im more interested in the live feed from Sorority Houses.
      • Yes, I don't know why someone doesn't do tv show like that. That's perfect use for drones.
      • we would need to map the star positions and physical landmarks to triangulate their general location first. Then its party with the hot girls baby!
    • -noun- don't -verb- people. People -verb- people.

      • -noun- don't -verb- people. People -verb- people.

        some people -adverb-ly -verb- people with -noun-s, even. Especially -adjective- -noun-s.

      • by treeves (963993)

        Frog don't lick people. People lick people.

        Hmm. I'm not sure how that template works.

        • The template means that people are responsible for their own actions, not some object or abstract they're in control of.

        • by Tarsir (1175373)

          An astute observation! I suggest a revision:

          -inanimate-noun- don't -animate-verb- people. People -animate-verb- people.

          \Computational Linguist

          • by treeves (963993)

            I think transitive-verb would suffice instead of animate-verb. (My example would have been funnier if I had used an intransitive verb to make that point, e.g. "Frog don't sleep people. People sleep people.
              Oh, and it should be plural-inanimate-noun.
            Glad you got my point, though.

    • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Monday January 16, 2012 @08:28PM (#38719856)

      Thermal imaging cameras are invaluable for certain engineering work.
      They can also be used to violate your rights and 'look' into your house.

      Russian journalists have used drones to get arial photos of the Moscow riots.

      And this just in Hammers used to build houses can also be used to beat people's skulls in.

    • Now an officer can write tickets for anyone speeding over a several mile stretch of road, rather than just a particular point

      I would hope you can come up with better worst case scenarios than that; loathe as I am to give that kind of power to the govt there is a part of me that would love to see an inflexible, if-you-break-driving-laws-you-WILL-be-caught scenario. Goodness knows there are enough dangerous drivers out there who get away with it because of how hard it is to catch them all.

      Im not sure, for example, that I would be against stationary radar stations on the highway that could alert a cop about reckless driving / speed

      • No law should be 100% universally enforced. No human mind (or minds) can write a law that covers every physically possible situation.

        • by dintech (998802)

          But that's what courts are for.

          • Traffic courts are the end point of a revenue supply stream. Judges do not make, "Gee, was there a valid reason?" types of decisions. They make "Is it humanly possible to apply this law here and are all the 'T's crossed?" types of decisions.

            The enforcement and fee structure of our traffic laws are based on extremely low chances of getting caught. If every possible infraction was enforced in every possible instance the average driver's license would be ticketed to the point of suspension within an hour. Th
            • Traffic courts are the end point of a revenue supply stream. Judges do not make, "Gee, was there a valid reason?" types of decisions. They make "Is it humanly possible to apply this law here and are all the 'T's crossed?" types of decisions. Also there is a general "knowledge" that speed is the ultimate "safety sin" that is so far from correct. The government's own NHTSA report that was released after 10 years of the "55 mile-an-hour limit" had background data that when analyzed (by someone other then the government) showed that the safest speed to be traveling was 5 to 10 mph faster then the general flow of traffic. That same study "proved" that 55 saved lives: after ignoring any other possible source for a reduction in deaths per mile such as much safer cars, massive improvements in tire safety, seat belt laws, etc... So after going with the spin that nothing else could have effected the number of fatalities, the best number they could come up with worked out to it costing an additional 150 man/years (from the reduced speeds) on the roads for every life saved. (One independent analysis pointed out that you could get the same expected reduction in fatalities by increasing the actual tire pressure in all cars by about 2 psi.) Lets be serious. Traffic enforcement is about revenue. Speed is easy to prove, it is fun/interesting for cops to enforce and the public has been led to believe that SPEED is the big scary thing, ... and lets be honest, there is something in the back of the average person's head that doesn't want someone to pass them. If speed was the CAUSE of an accident then there would be a speed where when you reached it the accident would ensue.

              I wish I still had mod points. This is exactly it. It's far harder to prove that someone was tailgating, or driving erratically or aggressively a mile back, or failing to use their turn signal. I cant' believe how many people are too lazy to flick their finger to let the other people in their proximity, also operating a moving 2 ton vehicle, know that they have an intention of changing direction. That kind of crap causes more accidents than speeding ever will, unless the speeding is truly excessive and r

            • by Pope (17780)

              55mph limit was to reduce gas consumption after the oil crisis. Driving faster increases gas consumption at the square of the speed due to drag.

      • loathe as I am to give that kind of power to the govt there is a part of me that would love to see an inflexible, if-you-break-driving-laws-you-WILL-be-caught scenario. Goodness knows there are enough dangerous drivers out there who get away with it because of how hard it is to catch them all.

        Perhaps, but I submit that more education, stricter licensing requirements, and a de-sanitization of media would do far more without the added expense or possibility of abuse (here's where I go OT):

        Education and Licensing: There should be a federally mandated, minimum year-long class in the style of vocational schooling (split classroom/lab time) that focuses on teaching people how to drive. In addition to having to take such a class prior to acquiring a license, I also feel most current licensees should be

        • by JDG1980 (2438906)
          The reason we hand out drivers' licenses at the drop of a hat is that in most parts of the US, driving is a necessary part of being an independent adult. That is due to the physical layout of our country and is not going to change in the forseeable future. What will happen eventually is that automatic driving systems like the ones currently being tested by Google and other companies will become ready for public consumption, and by a decade or so after their initial release, all new cars will have them. Then
          • Sounds like a plan.

            I guess, considering the inevitability of GPS-guided, self-driving cars (would that be "autoautomobiles?"), now would be the time to start demanding that the Congress Critters pass legislation barring the tracking of private citizen's movements without express consent, and an option to opt-out up front.
            • by Coren22 (1625475)

              Make that opt in instead, opt out is too easy to abuse by making it difficult to opt out, or making the opt out small print.

    • by artor3 (1344997) on Monday January 16, 2012 @09:19PM (#38720266)

      What's so bad about the scenarios you've listed?

      The cops surveiling Occupy protests with drones... what's supposed to be scary about that? There are already cops at the scene. Why are we supposed to be scared that they now have an extra camera angle? Is it only if they have your hypothetical microwave emitter equipped on the drone? Because if so, that's a reason to be against microwave emitters, not drones, and at any rate it's unlikely they'd ever use them. They tried to the low tech equivalent (firehoses) against civil rights protestors, and it didn't do squat for them.

      And for your other example, a more uniform enforcement of traffic laws would be a good thing. Right now they're so spottily enforced that a lot of people ignore them, and it becomes a tax by lottery. If they were enforced uniformly, it would become a bad driving tax instead, which would be preferable.

      There's nothing cops can do with drones that they can't do with helicopters. The only difference is drones are cheaper. Unless your plan to defend civil liberties relies on the cops not being able to afford enforcement, there's no reason to be worried by drones. And if your plan does rely on impoverished police departments, you've got other things to worry about.

      • It depends on who is operating, and controlling the drones. We have this thing called a constitution, and it states that the military isn't supposed to be used as a police force. Of course, we're in the process of arming our police forces exactly like a military unit, so that line is becoming blurred.
        • by artor3 (1344997)

          I too am concerned by the militarization of the police. I was in Boston for New Years and there were guys in camo carrying assault rifles guarding the subways. I asked one of my local friends, and apparently that's just the normal transit cops. So yeah, that's definitely not a trend that I like to see. But the drones aren't innately military hardware, and unless they start putting bombs on them, I see no reason to worry about their use.

          • I too am concerned by the militarization of the police. I was in Boston for New Years and there were guys in camo carrying assault rifles guarding the subways.

            I remember traveling to Europe in the late 90s and being shocked to see police in the Paris subways with assault rifles. Until that point, I had never seen that at any US city, only regular uniformed police. Fast forward 15 years, and you see paramilitary police everywhere in the US.

            • by dargaud (518470)
              Yeah, the movie Strange Days [tp] was science-fiction, but it's continous police presence and megaphone security messages now seem like a documentary.
          • Camo? In the city? Who's bright idea was that?
            • I was in NYC about 2 months after 9/11, and I got a laugh out of the soldiers they had stationed in the subway. All of them looked like they were ready for jungle warfare.
      • OP makes a valid point.
        The technology is NOT "bad", the usage is NOT "bad", and guess what? The people are not "bad".

        In some ways, it's just pure jealously of those that don't the tech or choose not to use it, and those that do (accessibility is not a problem, just look at the millions of home owners, and shop owners buying up CCTV systems).

        In other ways, it's just a true validation that information IS "power". And we all know humans crave "power". All UAV's offer (aside from the ones the military uses as w

    • And this comment is spot on in my book. I have no problem using drones for science, nature and wildlife purposes, and the like. But drones for police matters? There is a reason I live far away from most government.....
    • by Memnos (937795)
      I got 200K to blow. Wanna patrol back?
    • It's not the drones that people have a problem with; It's how they're used. No amount of positive publicity on their 'good' uses can erase the fact that many, if not most, law enforcement agencies envision an armada of cheap surveillance drones monitoring everyone and everyplace they decide they don't like. Protesting wall street? Drones. Add in the crowd-control microwave emitter for only an additional $2,999. How about some drones patrolling over the freeways during rush hour, equipped with a radar gun? Now an officer can write tickets for anyone speeding over a several mile stretch of road, rather than just a particular point. Only $1,599 after mail in rebate. The list goes on.

      Okay, hold on. This is just incentivising, nothing but stirring a pot not boiling. Yet.

      Regardless of what law enforcement agencies "envision", they don't have drones yet with crowd-control microwave emitters, radar guns, or other Dr. No devices attached from some Looney Tunes Acme mail-in company. Perhaps they will in the future. Deal with it then; don't stir up scary shit now with some quasi-conspiracy-theory invective.

      What I took from the articles and the events? I saw a positive response. We have technol

    • by quarkscat (697644)

      Exactly.

      A swarm of Hellfire missile equipped Raptor UAVs would have made a great "ice-breaker" for that Russian supply ship.

      But such an application is not the primary intent for deploying armed UAVs over the continental USA. All aspects of military-focused high technology developed for conflicts overseas ultimately finds its way to domestic "urban pacification" or against domestic "enemy combatants". 30 years of increasingly draconian police state legislation has brought us to the point that:
      (1) citizens

    • by g0bshiTe (596213)
      I fully agree. From the summary what lept out at me was the fact they are saying "drones welcome in Alaska". Of note is

      launched from Nome's shores by University of Alaska – Fairbanks Geophysical Institute researchers

      This was used by a University and not local law enforcement or local government.

      FYI @girlintraining, they don't run radar from the air. Most likely they mark time from one place to another, r = d/t.

    • Protesting wall street? Drones.

      I really don't get the fear of a surveillance society in public.

      You know who else is watching Occupy Wall Street? OWS, The News, Police, citizens on the street etc etc...

      Speeding is illegal. What's wrong with getting a ticket for flagrantly breaking the law somewhere an officer happens to not be?

      If someone mugs someone and a drone sees them and follows them home... Good! If a drone sees me at 7-11 and follows me home... ummm... ok. Waste of resources. Someone must be really bored.

      I know this sounds like

      • by Coren22 (1625475)

        The problem with traffic laws is that you are always breaking them. Going too fast? you're speeding. Going slower than traffic, you're impeding the flow of traffic. Speeding not done to excess causes less accidents. The speed limits are also particularly bad.

        • If the laws as written are bad then they'll get changed to better laws. Laws which people actually follow instead of laws which can be selectively enforced are better, fairer laws to start with.

          And you'll be able to go into court and say "As the drone data demonstrates I only sped for about 100m while coming down a hill. My apologies, but a human mistake.

          Or the drone data could prove that you were driving with traffic and not passing other speeders.

  • Great! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jhoegl (638955) on Monday January 16, 2012 @07:57PM (#38719636)
    I guess Iceroad Truckers had the month off.
    I thought they would drive through anything including snow drifts. I am so disillusioned. :(
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Monday January 16, 2012 @07:58PM (#38719640)

    I just wonder why someone would be willing to live in a place that is by all measures a risky place to establish a life. Why? When I think of the polar bear, the weather, the isolation and so on, I fail to see the reason why I would want to live there. Man is surely intriguing.

    • by Ironchew (1069966) on Monday January 16, 2012 @08:04PM (#38719700)

      I just wonder why someone would be willing to live in a place that is by all measures a risky place to establish a life. Why? When I think of the polar bear, the weather, the isolation and so on, I fail to see the reason why I would want to live there. Man is surely intriguing.

      Some people like to be closer to nature than others. It's a risky thing to do, but the Earth is a beautiful place, and that's fulfillment enough for those people.

      • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday January 16, 2012 @08:17PM (#38719768) Homepage

        Or, that's where your family is from. Nome started out as a Inupiat settlement, then morphed into a Gold Rush town. Much of the population is Alaska Native and the rest are just basically crazy.

        It's an odd life, but makes more sense than living in Cleveland.

        • Much of the population is Alaska Native and the rest are just basically crazy.

          You say that as if the two are mutually exclusive. :-)

        • by Ihmhi (1206036)

          It's an odd life, but makes more sense than living in Cleveland.

          Well yeah. I mean, think about it. One is freezing cold most of the time and filled with economic uncertainty and brutal animals out to murder you at a second's notice. The other is Alaska.

      • There are plenty of places close to nature (you can't even see a man made construction) without the risks, though.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          If you can't see other civilization there are additional risks as a result. The real question is how they compare with other living situations. Not all of them are equally risky. I spent some time living on an island without any reliable means of getting off it on short notice. It was perfectly fine as long as you didn't do anything stupid like split your head open or otherwise need immediate emergency care.

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Exactly. if you want to be close to nature come to a state like AR, where its lush green wherever you see and land is cheap so you can own your own holler and have as much nature as you desire. my GF's family own their own holler up in the Ozarks and i just love going up there to spend a week because i can sit on the front porch and enjoy my lunch while watching a herd of deer graze not 60 feet from my seat. Of course you gotta watch the squirrels on the back patio, the grandkids have fed them so much they

          • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday January 16, 2012 @10:43PM (#38720826) Homepage

            Exactly. if you want to be close to nature come to a state like AK where it's blanket white wherever you see and land is cheap so you can own your own bog and have as much nature as you desire. my GF's family own their own bog up near Fairbanks and i just love going up there to spend a week because i can sit on the front porch and enjoy my lunch while watching a herd of caribou graze not 60 feet from my seat. Of course you gotta watch the Polar Bears on the back patio, the grandkids have been fed to them so so long they park their little fat asses on the back patio not 10 feet from you and if you don't throw them a snack they start growling at you "Hey asshole, I'm right here and if you don't feed me some dog food, then you're next. WTF? What's a endangered species gotta do to get some of those calories man?". If its something they really love like a can of Alpo or a steak, they might take it out of your hand and leave the hand alone. Then again, they might not.

            Its really beautiful country with miles and miles of unspoiled wilderness you can enjoy, fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, or just being hypothermic with a survival suit and sleeping bag on a cold afternoon, its just nice, if your survive that is. It also only stops snowing a couple of days a year and almost never melts except under the houses so its a hell of a lot colder than a New York City hooker. How them folks live in those big cities is just beyond me, hell you have people dressing like it was Halloween pretty much every day of the year.s Right now, there's hardly a soul in site, just the sun barely above the horizon and 60 mph winds. I'll take that over traffic jams any day of the week.

            There, I made it a bit more topical.

          • Wtf is a "holler"?

            • by hairyfeet (841228)
              Its a small valley situated between two mountains, the Ozarks is full of them. Truly gorgeous up in that area and because you can't farm in a holler easily (too many trees, too hilly) you can own quite a bit of land dirt cheap. And for the guy that said you get mosquitoes the size of B52? that's the delta NOT the Ozarks. In fact because there is so little standing water you almost never see mosquitoes in that area.
              • I am pretty sure the mosquito reference was referring to AK. Every one I've met who's been to AK asserts they've far exceeded my one-time MN experience. Personally, I think some areas should be left for migratory waterfowl and such. Grizzlies and cold I can deal with, I not manly enough to face midges and mosquitoes. I am soon moving a bit north to where the cucarachas are smaller, in order to enjoy a better life.

                • by hairyfeet (841228)

                  What's a midge? As for skeeters you should go to the delta sometime, they come in bunches so thick they look like a black cloud. Makes the fish fat though, i've seen them literally jumping out of the water to grab a big mouthful when they are flying just above a creek. As far as roaches ANY big city, i don't care how far north you go, will have huge bastards. Down here it stays warm enough most of the time the roaches stay outside where there is plenty of leaf matter to feed on and they actually don't get t

      • by treeves (963993)

        Or further away from lots of other people. There's plenty of nature between 50S and 50N latitude.

      • And maybe closer to Benjamin Franklin's (cash). I hear Nome's a big gold mining town...

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      Polar bears are per-capita less dangerous than LA traffic.

      Some people like isolation. In all seriousness, there is risk in establishing a life anywhere. In one place you have some small but measurable probability of being capped by a gang-banger if you're not careful. In another place you have a small but measurable probability of freezing to death if you're not careful. It balances out.

      Speaking as one who moved out of a highly desirable, sunny, (which I miss a bit now) warm area to a place that was les

      • Doesn't mean polar bears are safe to be around but... most traffic is per capita less dangerous than LA traffic :)

    • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Monday January 16, 2012 @08:07PM (#38719726)
      I just wonder why someone would be willing to live in a place that is by all measures a risky place to establish a life. Why? When I think of the polar bear, the weather, the isolation and so on, I fail to see the reason why I would want to live there. Man is surely intriguing.

      Yes we are intriguing. Other people might say the same about living in a city.
      Noise level, crowding, crime, expense, risk of getting hit by a motor vehicle, etc, etc.

      To each his own.
    • It allows them to claim to be rugged individualists that don't rely on anyone or anything, as they cash the checks they get just for living there. Alaska takes in more money from the federal government than any other state.
    • I just wonder why someone would be willing to live in a place that is by all measures a risky place to establish a life. Why? When I think of the polar bear, the weather, the isolation and so on, I fail to see the reason why I would want to live there. Man is surely intriguing.

      Indeed... we all still live here on this planet, while the risk to establish a life increases.

      I'm sure that compared to the streets of Mumbai or Detroit, Nome is paradise.

    • by Lunoria (1496339)

      I just wonder why someone would be willing to live in a place that is by all measures a risky place to establish a life. Why? When I think of the polar bear, the weather, the isolation and so on, I fail to see the reason why I would want to live there. Man is surely intriguing.

      The same could be said for those living in Tornado Alley. People are weird, and they'll live anywhere on this planet.

    • Because the government (not sure if state or fed) used to pay a monthly incentive check (~$3000?) to people to live there?

      • by rrhal (88665)
        The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend is paid by the state. The amount varies year by year. It has been ~ $1200 for the last few years.
    • by tomhath (637240) on Monday January 16, 2012 @10:19PM (#38720686)
      One of my favorite stories, I think from Farley Mowat, is about a group of sociologists who were studying people in remote fishing villages accessible only by small boat along the coast of Newfoundland. One elderly woman they talked to had never in her life been away from the town where she was born. She'd never heard of New York City; they tried to describe it to her - millions of people living in buildings hundreds of feet tall. In response she shook her head and thought out loud "I can't imagine why so many people would want to live so far away from everything".

      I fail to see the reason why I would want to live there.

      You and than old woman are the same...

    • by JDG1980 (2438906)
      Blue-collar workers get paid more in Alaska than in most other states (in large part because so few people want to live there!) Also, the oil reserves are the property of the state, so not only are there no state taxes, but residents actually get a rebate check from the Permanent Fund Dividend (it was $1,174 per person last year).
    • by riverat1 (1048260)

      Nome started out as a gold rush town (although there were Inupiat in the vicinity before). You could pan gold straight out of the beach sand, deposited there by the Yukon River.

      It takes a different kind of person to live in Nome but it's probably better for the rest of us that they do.

  • Alaska is the perfect place for cargo drones.. They're a lot less likely to wreck than a human pilot..

  • ...but does it really matter that it was unmanned? There was no inherent risk for a regular pilot to monitor the same situation. I would hardly consider this a " tedious or risky intelligence gathering gig."
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Many people around the world see drones as death, surveillance, 24/7 tracking for wifi, voice/audio, visual, heat ect.
      Stories in the media filter back to the US and local populations understand what is going to be used on them and the long term new funding they will have to find.
      On the other side you have the manufacturers, public/private maintenance, public/private maintenance training, flight schools, regulators and visions of huge boondoggles.
      States want to set up drone "universities" to cover all th
  • by theNAM666 (179776) on Monday January 16, 2012 @08:22PM (#38719796)

    Did they get FAA authorization? Enquiring bureaucrats want to know.

  • This entire article is a case study in propaganda.
  • by readin (838620)
    I have a brother in Alaska. Nome? Sure, he's my brother. I mean Nome in Alaska. I'd know 'em anywhere! (Thank you Abbott and Costello)
  • I'm confused now, what was it again? Oh yes. Two legs good, four legs baaaaaaaa-ad. Drones are good now, right?
  • The good news is the drone guided the fuel delivery to the town. The bad news is the delivery was done by aerosolizing the fuel over the town, then igniting it. Oops, must have left some of the military code in there by mistake.

  • Or would the geek in us just like to assume it?

    From http://dec.alaska.gov/Spar/renda/index.htm [alaska.gov]

    01/11/2012 - The T/V Renda and CGC Healy have not travelled any significant distance since noon yesterday. The vessels remain approximately 100 nautical miles from Nome. An experienced U.S. ice navigator hired by Vitus Marine as a technical advisor arrived safely on board the Healy around 4:00 PM today. He may transfer to Renda after assessing the challenges from on board the Healy.

    01/12/2012 - The vess
  • by wisebabo (638845) on Monday January 16, 2012 @11:53PM (#38721220) Journal

    So here's a question for the skilled do it yourselfers in the slashdot crowd.

    I figure that one of those "micro-drones" only use a few(?) watts of power right? How much does the Parrot quad copter use?

    Well, could you (sorry, not me, unfortunately I don't have the hacking skills :( attach a solar panel facing DOWN on one of those drones and then affix a little infrared LED on the drone. A modest ground based telescope would track the LED and continuously point a medium(?) powered laser at the solar panel. (That's one place where the hacking comes in, to have a motorized base track the drone and to provide safeties in case the laser lost "lock").

    Voila! As long as the drone stays in line of sight of the base (and as long as power doesn't give out) you've got a modest little perpetual aerial surveillance platform. Can lasers of the requisite power/frequency be purchased without too much of a headache from the authorities? Can small drones fight gusts and high winds so that they'll stay up most of the time?

    This reminds me of the floating "golden eyes" used by Larry Niven as surveillance tools in his novels. Someone in Japan made a spherical drone that did this but I think it could only stay up for 10 minutes on one battery charge. If the solar cells were light enough/laser was powerful enough perhaps that drone could be used.

    Is the visible/infrared the best part of the spectrum to use? Would a maser (with microwave power receiver) be better in terms of efficiency or safety?

    • Here are some numbers [wikipedia.org] to get you started on your calculations. That test was done indoors.

    • Ar.Drone example.
      1A@11.8V (3 cell lipo), 10C rating == 10A*11.8 == 118Watts continuous max discharge.... a 100+W solar panel is $$$ and weigh over 8lbs.

      The Ar.Drone cannot fight headwinds period. You'll need way more powerful motors, like any of the open source UAVs. Basically a few lbs. Most of the DIY UAVs can fight a Beaufort 4 wind, but not reliably.

      IR? No thanks.

      Laser? No thanks (unless you want to shoot something down).

      Military

      • by Agripa (139780)

        It's not quite that bad. The panel can be optimized for the wavelength used and the culminated source can be considerably brighter than the sun. You still need a high power infrared laser.

  • Funny how things like this make the news.

    I recognized the name because Nome is/has been the end of the Iditarod dogsled race for quite a while.

    Only way to get there is normally by plane (or dogsled, obviously), so this made me chuckle quite a bit.

    http://www.iditarod.com/ [iditarod.com]

  • Might turn out the only future enclaves of freedom and privacy in the US will be where there is near-ubiquitous wind.

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