Barely a week goes by these days without me seeing something about a cool home built drone project on sites like Hack a Day, and a couple of weeks ago the Open Source Hardware Users Group (OSHUG) had a meeting dedicated to drones. I really liked the idea of using Kinect as a controller for an ARDrone:

Sadly the chaps from OpenRelief weren’t able to make the meeting, but they sent along an excellent video of what they’re up to that more than made up for things (and means that you can see as much as I did of the great work they’re doing):

I can see loads of potential for these things as kids and hacker toys, and the possibilities with mesh networks and the Internet of Things is enormous. Unfortunately there’s a down side… Drones have been an effective tool in the ‘war on terror’ for some time, but the tables could turn as the forces of consumerisation turns them from the asymmetric weapon of 1st world governments into the asymmetric weapon of anybody. The first time I read of this concept was in Scott Adam’s ‘The Religion War‘, but I’m told that there are earlier SF references such as David’s Sling by Mark Stiegler. The overreactions by law enforcement have already started, which prompted me to talk about the topic at the recent London CloudCamp ‘Independence Day Special’:

I concluded by saying that we need to start the debate on policy now – before something that causes a knee jerk reaction happens.

One Response to “Drones”

  1. 1 julian

    Get that knee ready to jerk… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Kslv7l75jQ

    On a more serious note, we have had regulation around radio control planes for a long time, and it’s less about the manner of control, and more about the size, weight and range of the devices, and that will cover drones as well. Appreciate they are more hackable than ever before and we never really had to worry about semi-autonomous swarms of anti-personnel cat-bots but as previously high-end technology and the tools you need to use it become increasingly commoditised, there will be opportunities for the convicted and motivated individual to create damage through any manner of mechanisms – whether there is legislation or not.

    Guidelines on the semi-autonomy should be very necessary (pre-singularity:-) – and we already have precedent. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_car#Legislation

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