Saturday, December 10, 2011

Unmanned drones - a tool for environmental groups?

There has been some possibly-deserved concern about unmanned drone use inside the US, due to civil liberties concerns:

Excitement over America’s use of drones in multiple Muslim countries is, predictably, causing those weapons to be imported onto U.S. soil. Federal law enforcement agencies and local police forces are buying more and more of them and putting them to increasingly diverse domestic uses, as well as patrolling the border, and even private corporations are now considering how to use them. One U.S. drone manufacturer advertises its product as ideal for “urban monitoring.” Orlando’s police departmentoriginally requested two drones to use for security at next year’s GOP convention, only to change their minds for budgetary reasons.
....the use of drones for domestic surveillance raises all sorts of extremely serious privacy concerns and other issues of potential abuse. 

We have to acknowledge these concerns, but at the same time, there could be beneficial uses by environmentalists.  Many environmental violations are hidden on private property or on inaccessible portions of public property.  Remote-controlled aircraft with cameras could help resolve those problems.  For example, a radio-controlled helicopter with a video camera, with 8 minutes of flying time, costing less $100.  This is an approach that environmentalists might want to consider, especially as their capabilities get better.


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