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Microdrone Spy Planes 494

Posted by michael
from the i-spy-with-my-little-eye dept.
glinden writes "BBC News is reporting that Israel is now deploying microdrone spy planes. These planes have a wingspan of 13 inches (33 cm), can be carried in a backpack, can be launched by a single soldier, and can even fly through windows. The next step in the drone wars?"
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Microdrone Spy Planes

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  • by l810c (551591) * on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:50PM (#8682113)
    Flying through windows is a very cool feature, but then what?

    Snap a couple of pictures, turn on a dime then fly right back out?
    Fly through the other open window on the other side of the building?

    Fly through window, Then EXPLODE... Now That would be cool.

    • by airrage (514164) on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:53PM (#8682139) Homepage Journal
      I have to agree that it sounds rather fishy. What happens if the window is in a hallway? They should make a helocopter one instead of a fixed-wing one. That way it could hover and enter windows, buildings, etc. Of course maybe it's hard to RC the collective as I think it's called?

    • It would be even cooler if you could make them fly through windows and drop stink bombs. I can think of many times this would have been cool to have when I was 15.

      Better yet, how about carrying a string of 200 firecrackers? A great way to give back to the neighbor with that annoying barking dog.

      • It would be even cooler if you could make them fly through windows and drop stink bombs. I can think of many times this would have been cool to have when I was 15.

        From the picture, it doesn't appear that the drone could have much, if any, payload. But if it does (or a later, slightly larger generation could), does anyone doubt that Israel hasn't already thought using these to carry tear gas or another irritant in order to clear buildings?

        Think of the Predator [fas.org].

    • All the drones can fly for an hour while transmitting pictures back to their operators
    • by neilcSD (743335)
      I'd imagine this would be pretty simple without adding too much weight - set it up like a claymore, with a plastic/ball bearing lattice and a small amount of c4. They could even shape the charge so that the bearings came out the nose of the drone, limitting collatoral casualties and upping the kill probability. Very Bond-esque!
    • Maybe if it's cheap and disposable enough, they could just be transmitting the pictures back to a remote location. Then if the plane did crash or get captured, they would still have the data they were looking for. Cheap and disposable would be the best solution for these micro planes.

      --
      Smack your momma good deals. It's the cat's meow! [dealsites.net]
    • Fly through window, Then EXPLODE... Now That would be cool.

      Not to be a political provocateur, but with what Israel has been up to the last few years, I'm sure that's exactly what they will do...
      • 72 Virgins (Score:3, Insightful)

        Not to be a political provocateur, but with what Israel has been up to the last few years, I'm sure that's exactly what they will do...

        As opposed to what? Strapping it to some poor 10 or 15 year old kid who thinks he's soon going to be having his way with 72 virgins?

        • Re:72 Virgins (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Hektor_Troy (262592)
          And how do you know that the 72 virgins bullshit is in fact bullshit? Were you by any chance a martyr in your previous life?

          They have their belief in one invisible man, we in another - let the two invisible guys (who are in fact the same guy) duke it out on Pay Per View and not in the streets. Please.

          Religion ought to be banned outright planet wide!
          • Re:72 Virgins (Score:3, Insightful)

            And how do you know that the 72 virgins bullshit is in fact bullshit?

            Even if it is true, do you suppose that makes the human bomb any more justifiable?

            • Re:72 Virgins (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Hektor_Troy (262592)
              Nope.

              BUT - assuming it is true, then it would be because some supreme being finds it justifiable, presumably/hopefully because he/she/it/they can see a bigger picture than we can.

              You and I may not like it, but any supreme being would be a better judge than you and I. And who knows - maybe the people who get blown up get 144 virgins/whatever for being another kind of martyr?

              We don't know, and we CAN'T know. Maybe there are supreme beings, maybe there aren't. Personally I think the notion of doing the bidd
            • Re:72 Virgins (Score:5, Insightful)

              by CrankyFool (680025) on Friday March 26, 2004 @05:43PM (#8684463)
              There is, technically speaking, no moral or ethical reason why human bombs (AKA suicide bombers) are a Bad Thing[tm]. Remember, we saw an instance of this in WWII with the Japanese Kamikaze.

              It is usually going to be easier to breach defenses one-way than to go in, hit the enemy, and leave. Arriving with the intent of blowing up frees you to focus on the task rather than be distracted by 'misguided' attempts to survive the execution of it.

              Where it gets less great is when you do one of two things:
              1. Not clearly identify yourself as a hostile target, causing the other side to naturally suspect EVEYRONE on your side and probably qualifying you as an unlawful combatant (the Law of Armed Conflict [about.com] requires distinctive markings); or (much more seriously)
              2. Target civilians, which is when you become not just a weapon, but a terrorist weapon.

              There's no fundamental difference between a Palestinian wearing a uniform and a bomb blowing themselves up with a bunch of soldiers and, say, a US soldier storming a Japanese pillbox with a grenade knowing he's going to die. The issue is whether or not he's clearly marked and, more importantly, whether he's attacking soldiers on duty or civilians.
              • Re:72 Virgins (Score:3, Interesting)

                by stephanruby (542433)
                I wonder in which category you would put a clearly marked Tomahawk missile hurling at 550 MPH and traveling at a very low altitude so that noone sees it coming. And how about all the American ex-military "civilians" stationed in Saudi Arabia to protect the House of Saud? Would you qualify those guys as terrorists if their participation went above and beyond training, but if they were actually found to have participated in black ops and unofficial clean-up operations within Saudi Arabia?
  • But (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    How do they fit a midget in there?!
    • Re:But (Score:3, Funny)

      by Ilan Volow (539597)
      Fitting a midget in a model airplane? That's ridiculous and implausible.

      Such a system would actually employ something like a gerbil and an excersise wheel.
  • Dig that propeller! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The I Shing (700142) * on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:52PM (#8682129) Journal
    I'm glad I'm not an Israeli soldier... I'd be worried about over-winding the propeller and breaking the rubber band, or cutting my finger on the thing.

    All joking aside, those things would be hot sellers here in the USA.

    Ever wonder what's going on behind the ten-foot-high stone walls of that rich dude's house on the corner? Why, just sent your drone flying overhead.

    Police departments would dig those things, too, and so would rescue units.

    And don't get me started on what the tabloid paparazzi could do with those things.
    • You can get one pretty easily.
      http://www.rcmodels.com/airplanes-toy-rc-airplanes .html [rcmodels.com]

      The one in the picture even looks sort of the same.
    • by ch-chuck (9622) on Friday March 26, 2004 @03:02PM (#8682285) Homepage
      what's going on behind the ten-foot-high stone walls of that rich dude's house

      only until he deploys the manually operated ground-to-air rapidly re-targetable kinetic dispersion-projectile defense system (old fashioned shotgun).

    • by Cruciform (42896)
      Pick up the latest RC mags and you'll see some very similar devices. Flight times are shorter, but they're improving all the time. Micro-servos and stronger, lighter pushrods are allowing fine control with even the smallest planes.
      Wind is definitely a problem with these devices, but if you had a swarm of them and some skilled pilots you could do a lot of damage via intelligence collection or bomb/poison attack.
    • Real benefit would come to rescue and disaster recovery units if these babies could be controlled (or at least monitored) via satellite--or even something more remote than a laptop within 5K as the article suggests.

      Imagine what could be done in a remote disaster situation in any region--even a metropolitan area--just by being able to fly low and into and around hard-to-reach areas.

      Sure, while in this instance it's being used by soldiers, your point about rescue units, etc. is an idea I hope takes hold
  • by bangular (736791) on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:52PM (#8682131)
    They can make this but they still can't make me a decent jetpack? I'm begining to think we will never get our flying shark we were promised
  • Sounds like (Score:5, Funny)

    by slycer9 (264565) on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:53PM (#8682144) Journal
    Model planes to me. Had one when I was a kid.

    Fit in backpack. Was a little over a foot wide. Flew it into a window once...oh wait......
  • Very clever (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:53PM (#8682148) Homepage Journal
    While I'm postive this will lead to heated debate, flames and trolls regarding the situation in Palestine. I think it's very clever and resourceful to develop inexpensive methods of reconnaissance. But as these things buzz around they'd be hard to overlook. Maybe the next time the Israeli Army assasinates a palistinian they can do it with a poison needle or dart on one of these things instead of firing air-to-ground missiles. What's to stop the palestinians from doing likewise?

    Preferably they'd eliminate the need for such things by reigning in their own hardline elements demands and work toward peace.

    No justice, no peace.
    Know justice, know peace.

    • by eyeye (653962)

      What's to stop the palestinians from doing likewise?

      Hey if you gave the Palestinians billions of US$ a year in military aid maybe they would.

      Then they wouldn't have to "manually" deliver the bombs either.
      • Re:Very clever (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mi (197448)

        Hey if you gave the Palestinians billions of US$ a year in military aid maybe they would.

        This weapon, as well as Israel's famous gun (Uzi), and their tanks are of their own design.

        Palestinians got a lot more than "military aid" in the past -- they got entire armies fighting for -- so it was claimed -- their cause. Israel's very existence hung on a hair against _hundreds_ of Egyptian and Syrian tanks.

        Finally, the world certainly gives to Palestinians too -- food, medicine, buildings. Soviet Union and A

      • Re:Very clever (Score:3, Insightful)

        Dear lord. People accuse of Sharon of being cruel, but nothing outmatches the sheer barbarism of terrorist groups. At least Sharon tries to attack military targets, and doesn't ask 14 years old to blow themselves to pieces by saying they'll go to heaven when they do.
    • Re:Very clever (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2004 @03:06PM (#8682334)
      Preferably they'd eliminate the need for such things by reigning in their own hardline elements demands and work toward peace.

      That's a good one. Ask yourself these questions:

      What would happen if tomorrow the Palestinians said, "We are tired of this. We are no longer going to use violence to achieve our goals."

      Most people I ask say that a peace treaty would be signed.

      What would happen if tomorrow the Israelis said, "We are tired of this. We are no longer going to use violence to achieve our goals."

      Most people I ask say that the Palestinians will kill all the Israelis.

      Why are these answers different? Discuss, compare & contrast.
      • by Draxinusom (82930)

        I don't believe that the Palestinians' tactic of murdering civilians is ever justified in any circumstance, and in general I find myself to the right of the people I know on this subject; I would call myself "pro-Israel." Nevertheless, the basic fact is that Israel is the occupier, "Palestine" is the occupied. Even Ariel Sharon has acknowledged this. They don't call them "the occupied terroritories" for nothing. I daresay the Israelis would be more than happy to sign a peace treaty right now, considerin

        • the basic fact is that Israel is the occupier, "Palestine" is the occupied.

          According to international law (which I loathe to cite), it is not occupied by Israel. The following was reported in Arutz-7 on March 18:

          "Judea, Samaria and Gaza are not 'occupied territories' according to international law due to the fact that they were not taken from any foreign sovereign," says Law Professor Talia Einhorn, a senior member of the research faculty at Tel Aviv University and a Law professor at the Shaarei Mishpat

          • by actiondan (445169) on Friday March 26, 2004 @08:42PM (#8685982)
            According to international law (which I loathe to cite), it is not occupied by Israel.

            It may well be the case that, according to certain readings of international law, Israel is not defined as occupying the areas where the Palestinians live.

            In which case, the Palestinians are long-time residents of Israel and should be given full citizenship and voting rights. Israel is a democratic state, right?
    • Re:Very clever (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2004 @03:10PM (#8682389)
      I don't want to start too much of a flame war, but I think that there is a lot of myths flying around regarding Israel. I will restrain myself from ranting, but want to steer your attention to this website [us-israel.org] [www.us-israel.org] full of facts, WITH SOURCES. Take some time and become educated.
  • by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:53PM (#8682153) Homepage
    Standard issue:

    One (1) pair binoculars
    One (1) pair night-vision goggles
    One (1) Field emergency medical kit
    One (1) M-4 rifle
    Eighty (80) rounds 5.56 x 45mm NATO ammuniton
    Ten (10) Meals Ready-to-eat
    One (1) Mosquito micro-UAV
    Ten (10) 30mm propulsion-grade rubber bands

    • by Kenja (541830) on Friday March 26, 2004 @03:00PM (#8682258)
      Survival kit contents check. In them you'll find: one .45 caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days concentrated emergency raisons; one drug issue containing: antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; one hundred dollars in gold; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks; three pair a nylon stockings. Ten 30mm propulsion-grade rubber bands. Shoot, a fellah could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.
    • more like

      Tomorrow's Scout = One Mosquite micro-UAV

      Seems to me like he's only being about 60% of what he can be.
      - Jon Stewart
    • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday March 26, 2004 @04:15PM (#8683307)
      > One (1) pair binoculars
      >One (1) pair night-vision goggles
      > One (1) Field emergency medical kit
      > One (1) M-4 rifle
      > Eighty (80) rounds 5.56 x 45mm NATO ammuniton
      >Ten (10) Meals Ready-to-eat
      >One (1) Mosquito micro-UAV
      > Ten (10) 30mm propulsion-grade rubber bands

      Shoot, a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with that!

  • Better killers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:54PM (#8682168)
    This will most certainly be used in the ongoing struggle between Israel and Palestine. The last thing I want to see is either of those two groups become more efficient killers.

    This is a spy plane, however. So maybe it will be used for intelligence to prevent violence. Or perhaps it will be used for intelligence to make waging war more effective.
    • Re:Better killers (Score:2, Insightful)

      by saforrest (184929)
      This will most certainly be used in the ongoing struggle between Israel and Palestine.

      Don't you mean the struggle between Israel and Islamofascist terrorists?
    • I can see where someone will arm it with a poison dart.
    • Re:Better killers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GuyMannDude (574364) on Friday March 26, 2004 @03:03PM (#8682302) Journal

      This is a spy plane, however. So maybe it will be used for intelligence to prevent violence. Or perhaps it will be used for intelligence to make waging war more effective.

      The two tend to be linked at the hip. There is considerable interest in the military to develop means of preventing civilian casualties or collateral damage. And it's not just as simple as them not wanting to 'waste' ammunition on noncombatants, they really do want to avoid civilian casualties. First, military people aren't the psychotic, evil madman you see in the movies. Believe it or not, they have children too so they want to try to prevent the deaths of innocents in far away lands. Second, even if they didn't personally care about civilian deaths, the American people would and our allies most certainly would. The type of WWII war where massive civilian casualties are accepted so long as you kill lots of enemy combatants are long gone. Third, increased intelligence will help you refine a priori assumptions you made about the enemy's tactics. If you are planning on destroying a building you believe to be an enemy command center but then receive intelligence that it's actually a homeless shelter, that's more valuable than just noting that it's a non-target. It tells you that you really don't know where the hell the command center really is! And it also makes you pause and question the quality of the pre-battle intelligence that labeled it as enemy headquarters.

      Spy planes are here to stay and they will play a more important role in the conflicts to come. And I don't think you can separate their capabilities into "prevent violence" and "enable violence" bins. Those two qualities tend to be one and the same.

      GMD

      • Re:Better killers (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Otter (3800)
        And it's not just as simple as them not wanting to 'waste' ammunition on noncombatants, they really do want to avoid civilian casualties. First, military people aren't the psychotic, evil madman you see in the movies. Believe it or not, they have children too so they want to try to prevent the deaths of innocents in far away lands. Second, even if they didn't personally care about civilian deaths, the American people would and our allies most certainly would.

        Absolutely. Whatever your views on the practice

    • That is the same retarded logic used in banning non-lethal, although permanent injury causing weapons like laser dazzler's and other high-tech weaponry. If you're sending your sons and daughters into combat, which would you rather have: a son or daughter back home safe, albeit blind or potentially crippled for life, or one in a body bag?

      And now you people complain about UAV's doing a soldier's dirty work for them? Why the fixation on sending real, live people into combat when the future wars can be waged o
      • That is the same retarded logic used in banning non-lethal, although permanent injury causing weapons like laser dazzler's and other high-tech weaponry.

        What retarded logic? All I said was this will be used in the current conflict, and that it has both positive and negative potential.

        I must not be getting your point, because I agree that it is better to disable a soldier than to kill them... at least it is an option.

        On a less human note, it is occasionally more desirable to wound than kill. For insta
    • Re:Better killers (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mi (197448)

      The last thing I want to see is either of those two groups become more efficient killers.

      You are wrong on two counts. First, the precise killing is a better killing, because a precise weapon reduces collateral damage -- the children, with which Rantissi and the like surround themselves in public suddenly become exposed to less risk.

      Likewise Baghdad is still standing -- unlike some major German cities shortly after WWII -- because the precision of the bombing improved so much.

      Second, you imply, that th

  • by neko9 (743554) on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:55PM (#8682173)
    *clears glasses* *looks again at the screen* i think thats enough of slashdot for me today...
  • Nothing new (Score:4, Interesting)

    by baudilus (665036) on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:55PM (#8682177)
    Anyone with TechTV knows that these things have been around for quite some time (employed by the U.S. army). They say that they don't carry destructive payloads, just cameras and the like. The real question is, did they develop these models themselves or buy them from a U.S. company?
    • did they develop these models themselves or buy them from a U.S. company?

      The US probably paid for them indirectly: US aid package --> Israel --> purchase Mini-spy planse from US company (of which the people who approve the aid packages probably have lots of money invested). ;)

      ...and the circle of greed continues...

  • That's pretty good range for those guys. I could use those to remotely check the surf at the beach from my office!

  • and can even fly through windows

    Yeah, but can it fly through Linux?

    The next step in the drone wars?

    Begun this drone war has!

    can be carried in a backpack

    In Soviet Russia, planes carry YOU!

    Yeah, I know. my humour sucks.

  • Skywalker: "You fought in the drone wars?"
  • In the future... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SmackCrackandPot (641205) on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:55PM (#8682188)
    will we have 'spider' like cameras that can crawl along the ground and hide under rocks.

    Will we have 'hawk' or 'eagle' gliders that attempt to take out these reconaissance gliders?
  • Just like in DUNE (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Capt'n Hector (650760) on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:56PM (#8682192)
    These look more like personal assassination drones than surveillance equipment. Visions of DUNE come to mind...
    • Although personal assassination drones could be said to already exist in the form of the Predator, the picture I saw accompanying the BBC article looks much more like a remote-control prop-plane than a personal assassination platform. For one thing, it looks too small to carry any particularly leathal weaponry. (maybe, maybe you could attach a .22 pistol underneath it, I can't think of anything else)
      • I'm fairly certain the recoil from even a small pistol would send one of these drone out of control.

        Better, imho, would be a small charge or grenade.

        How much does a grenade weigh? How small a charge can be used to kill everyone within a 5mx5m room?
        • Grenade: a much better solution. Or make the whole plane blow up.

          The next issue is, can these fly fast enough to survive against a shotgun? And if so, how long before politicians/famous people are targetted with these? ("these" - the hypothetical assassination drones that could be built today, not the UAV mentioned in the article)
      • There are far more efficient and for lack of a better word, lighter, ways of killing someone than a gun. For instance, poison darts, cyanide spray, and lethal injection are just a few examples off the top of my head (yeah, I know, I'm sick).
  • I'd like to see... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rthille (8526) <web-slashdot@nOSPAM.rangat.org> on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:56PM (#8682195) Homepage Journal
    the remote cockroach that they had here [imdb.com]. Of course, it ended up squashed by a shoe, but before that it got critical intel out. Just imagine a battlefield where you can't trust that the spiders and snakes, or arctic hares aren't working for the other guys!
  • More (related info) (Score:3, Informative)

    by cetan (61150) on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:56PM (#8682197) Journal
    Check out the Scientific American Frontiers episode on flight: Flying Free (2001)

    http://www.pbs.org/saf/1109/index.html

    There's a lot of cool stuff related to similar projects.
  • we all know... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by v_1_r_u_5 (462399)
    some bored geek designed the microdrones to spy on the hot chics in those apartment complexes and then had to give it up to the military when he was caught.
  • hm (Score:5, Funny)

    by EMH_Mark3 (305983) on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:56PM (#8682200)
    So what? Lots of spyware can be flown through Windows nowadays.

    *rimshot*

  • by Foggiano (722250) on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:57PM (#8682212)
    NOVA ran a show a few months ago about the development and deployment of unmanned military aircraft. They have some interesting items here [pbs.org].
  • Ever since the dawn of conflict it hasn't been how many men you put on the battlefield as much as what's in their hand as they go out. Be it the advent of stronger alloys to make better swords, or to have the robots do the more dangerous scouting missions.

    This will only escalate exponentially untill perhaps man withdrawels his fragile body from war altogether?

  • Grenade (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kefoo (254567) on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:57PM (#8682226)
    How long before somebody loads one of these with explosives and turns it into a guided grenade? It could be useful as a weapon against a small target of opportunity that doesn't merit a bomb run or cruise missile strike, as well as keeping the soldiers out of immediate harm's way.
    • 1. Payload. This small, and you can't really carry a lot of weight, and you can only make an effective explosive so small. A typical grenade is about a pound or so. Of course, you could make the a/c body out of the explosive, and send it on a one way trip...;)
      2. Jamming. It's one thing to lose control of a camera toting aircraft, quite another to have your flying grenade turn around and get you. Armed Predators can cary much better antijam electronics, because they are biggger.
      3. Speed. See it coming, and
  • Ah, more US Tech... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Vthornheart (745224)
    I heard about this technology back in 1999, I had done a report on the unexposed spy technology of the United States. Those little buggers that they were holding in the picture closely resemble a prototype picture that I had found of the exact same kind of idea, being developed by US forces at that time.

    The wingspan was similar (about 15 inches, if I remember correctly), and could be controlled remotely. A color video camera and microphone on the "plane" would record any needed information.

    Another cas

  • Released Story:
    On display at the Tel Aviv conference were the Birdy and the Spy There mini-drones and two micro-drones, the Mosquito and the Mosquito 1.5. The models were developed by Israel Aircraft Industries' (IAI) engineering division.

    The REAL Story:
    "Yeah I'll take one of those balsa kits, that motor you showed me, a radio, and some glue. Oh and what sort of paint colors are availble?"
  • Where do they done get the little folks to pilot them there things?
  • I'll bet they're going to have a lot of fun racing these things.

  • Resources (Score:2, Interesting)

    I still wonder a bit at how much money goes into these things, as well as man hours. I can see their uses as survelliance, but would those resources be better used elsewhere? ... a lot of resources would be better used if people didn't suck and have to fight amongst themselves all of the time, though. So, in that case, whats a little plane?

    I'd like to own one, personally, but I just love playing with rockets and planes.

    As someone mentioned before, using these devices for rescue personel would be very cool
  • by CharAznable (702598) on Friday March 26, 2004 @03:04PM (#8682315)
    I guess someone at the Israeli army was playing the mission where you fly the rc chopper into the construction site...
  • by El (94934)
    when are they setting up a live web cam?
  • Related Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Your_Mom (94238) <slashdot@noSPam.innismir.net> on Friday March 26, 2004 @03:07PM (#8682347) Homepage
    For those of you who, like me, are fascinated by these things, check out The UAV forum [uavforum.com] lotsa neat discussion, information, and links.
  • Small is the future? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gilesjuk (604902)
    Is this sort of plane small enough to be invisible to current radar?

    Currently this isn't an issue since the range of it is so small, but a small stealth bomber dropping a chemical or biological agent could be pretty dangerous.
  • All this upside-down flying toy helicopter [fazed.net] needs is a machine pellet gun.

    - JML

  • by TrentL (761772)
    I like the little robot up there. Is "Robotics" a new category for Slashdot?
  • Problem in plane (Score:4, Informative)

    by g0bshiTe (596213) on Friday March 26, 2004 @03:29PM (#8682605)
    As an avid R/C pilot for many years. I don't think using an aircraft with a 13 inch wingspan is going to do much good. These planes are extremely suceptable to wind. I have a 1/2a pilon racer with a 24" wingspan and an .049 engine. It can only be flown when the wind is less than 15 mph. In a place where mountains, hills and thermals abound I doubt their plane will be much use.

    Btw the 1/2a racer has been clocked at over 90 mph. These things scream.
  • by rsd (194962) on Friday March 26, 2004 @03:43PM (#8682800) Homepage
    I wonder how long before it is hacked to fly thru Linux and Mac os X?
  • by fmaxwell (249001) on Friday March 26, 2004 @04:18PM (#8683339) Homepage Journal
    These planes have a wingspan of 13 inches (33 cm)...can be launched by a single soldier

    It must suck to be married. You can't even play with toy airplanes anymore.
  • by -tji (139690) on Friday March 26, 2004 @04:32PM (#8683557) Journal
    There are slightly larger, but similar in concept, planes available in hobby shops. Such as this Firebird II [hobbytron.net].

    Based on my experience flying that, I'm skeptical about a few things:
    - Flying conditions: The Firebird is quite a bit larger than that plane, but any winds above 5-10MPH or so make it difficult to control. That little plane would get tossed around even easier.
    - Duration: One hour flight time would be excellent, but with something so tiny I'm not sure how they pack that much battery power. My firebird is lucy to get 10 minutes of flying time before a recharge.
    - Flying through windows? - That seems unlikely with one of these units. That level of accuracy is very difficult, and at the speeds you need to keep it flying, you would not have much time to maneuver this thing. Also, in the article they describe plotting a destination on a map - like a GPS controlled craft. How the hell would you fly through windows in that scenario.

    Anyway, the hobby store variety of these things are a blast.. I highly recommend picking a couple up ( a couple because you're sure to crater it several times when first learning ).
  • by melted (227442) on Friday March 26, 2004 @04:49PM (#8683809) Homepage
    Russians use something like this, too, against Chechen insurgents (calling them "rebels" is fundamentally wrong). Their drone is called "Pchela" it's quite a bit bigger and requires at least two soldiers to launch (from what I've seen on TV).

    Here's some info:
    A Pchela (remotely piloted reconnaissance drone that provides television surveillance of ground targets) weighs 130 kilograms (loaded), has an operational range of 110 to 150 kilometers, can fly at altitudes ranging from 100 meters to 3 kilometers, and cruises at speeds from 11- to 150 kilometers an hour. Combat-recorded range: 55 kilometers. Its flight endurance is 2 hours (it needs 20 liters of gasoline for this). Its power plant is piston plus two solid rockets takeoff boosters (power at 32hp). Onboard of the Russian drone are a video camera, a still camera, a mapping camera, and a secure radio. It uses a parachute for landing. Pchela is probably equal in capability to many Western UAV in the same class. However, it is a slower, tactical unmanned aerial vehicle than, for example, the Russian the 800-kilometer-per-hour Reis UAV.

    More info available at:
    http://ufo.psu.ru/eng/dagestan.html
  • Fewer casualties? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danharan (714822) on Friday March 26, 2004 @05:53PM (#8684586) Journal
    It is odd to read people think this will reduce the number of casualties, especially "collateral damage".

    This is not unlike some of the security discussions we've had here. Force people to have 4 passwords, and they'll write them on sticky-notes besides their screen, reducing security. Passwords are _supposed_ to make systems safer, but abuse them and they are counter-productive.

    Drone technologies will completely change the strategy of conflict. One month before 9/11, a colleague and I predicted rc planes would be used against the White House. Ok, so we were off. But think about it: if the Israelis can use this, why couldn't the "terrorist" Palestinians? Imagine for a second what an rc plane/helicopter could do with non-conventional means...

    Assymetrical warfare is used because one side has no chance at symmetrical -conventional- warfare. As this reinforces "full-spectrum dominance", it only increases the risk of terrorist attack.

    I hope such drones are only used for reconnaissance, and not to carry out direct assassinations, causing another escalation.

    In the long-term, we will need to make our conflict resolution systems more robust, so they don't degenerate so fast and with such bloody consequences. Another interesting thing to note is as war becomes more capital intensive, we can expect the rise of Conscientious Objection to Military Taxation [members.shaw.ca]

Machines certainly can solve problems, store information, correlate, and play games -- but not with pleasure. -- Leo Rosten

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