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The drone doesn't carry weapons; instead, it's equipped with powerful radars that allow it to "see" 360 degrees for hundreds of miles, beaming high-resolution images to analysts on the ground.
Congress, relaxed the rules for deploying unmanned aerial vehicles. Police departments across the country can now fly drones weighing up to 25 pounds, as long as the aircraft stay within sight of the operator and fly no higher than 400 feet (so as not to get in the way of commercial aircraft). More rules easing restrictions on commercial drones are expected by 2015. By the end of the decade, the FAA expects 30,000 unmanned aerial vehicles — some as small as birds — to be peering down on American soil.
They're not armed with missiles. But otherwise, the technology is similar, with domestic drones ranging in size from a small airplane to a hummingbird. The Predator drone used on the border has a 66-foot wingspan and needs a runway to take off. Most other drones are made to be easier to use: They might be launched by hand, like the military's Raven, or fit in the trunk of a car, like the Qube police drone. Many are controlled remotely from the ground via a laptop or even an iPad, while others can fly autonomously on a programmed flight path. AeroVironment, a leading supplier of military drones, has developed a palm-size hummingbird drone that carries a video camera and weighs less than a AA battery. It's capable of flying 11 miles per hour and landing on a window ledge, where it can record sound and video.
"You want to sunbathe in the nude on your own property?" says Jay Stanley of the ACLU. "Now you can't be sure nobody is watching you." That prospect alarms many people: A recent Rasmussen poll found that more than 50 percent of Americans oppose drones' use in domestic skies. Still, in separate cases in 1986 and 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that police don't need a warrant to observe a private property from public airspace. And some argue that in this era of private data mining, government scrutiny of emails and phone calls, and ubiquitous security cameras in public places, privacy is already moot. What remains to be seen is how the public reacts as drones regularly start showing up overhead. "The technology is here," says Peter W. Singer, a robotics expert at the Brookings Institution. "And it isn't going away."
A drone of one's own Drone manufacturers and law enforcement aren't the only ones eager to see unmanned vehicles hit the skies. There's a growing and enthusiastic subculture of do-it-yourself drone-makers across the United States, who spend weekends tinkering on homemade drones. Chris Anderson, the editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, is perhaps their biggest evangelist. Several years ago, he brought home a toy robotics kit and a remote-controlled airplane and combined the two, so that the plane could fly on autopilot. His kids went back to their video games, but Anderson was hooked. He created DIYDrones.com, a site for amateur drone enthusiasts that now has more than 25,000 members. They say the proliferation of cheap sensors, chips, and cameras makes it easier than ever to assemble your own flying robot. "If you have an iPhone or an Android, you basically have an autopilot in your pocket," says Anderson, who compares DIY drone-makers to early personal computer hobbyists. "Right now, drones are scary," Anderson says. "I'd like to make them unscary."
Originally posted by wevebeenassimilated
Only 50% of Americans oppose drones use in domestic skies!! Seriously? The other half doesn't mind being spied on or are they ignorant to what is going on?