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Robotics United Kingdom

Armed Robot Drones To Join UK Police Force 311

Lanxon writes "British criminals should soon prepare to be shot at from unmanned airborne police robots. Last month it was revealed that modified military aircraft drones will carry out surveillance on everyone from British protesters and antisocial motorists to fly-tippers. But these drones could be armed with tasers, non-lethal projectiles and ultra-powerful disorienting strobe lighting apparatus, reports Wired. The flying robot fleet will range from miniature tactical craft such as the miniature AirRobot being tested by one police force, to BAE System's new 12m-wide armed HERTI drone as flown in Afghanistan."
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Armed Robot Drones To Join UK Police Force

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  • by AliasMarlowe ( 1042386 ) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @03:32AM (#31096780) Journal

    British criminals...antisocial motorists

    Last I heard, antisocial motoring was rather annoying, but not actually a crime.

    "Citizens^W Subjects of the Crown, prepare to be coerced into socially approved behaviours!"

  • by NoNeeeed ( 157503 ) <> on Thursday February 11, 2010 @04:00AM (#31096950)

    This is a highly speculative article, assuming that because these drones can carry weapons that they will.

    While I wouldn't put it past the Home Office to want to do this, I'd be surprised if the Police were too keen.

    Here in the UK there is a strange dichotomy, we seem perfectly happy to be watched all the time, but the idea of armed police is an absolute no go.

    Riot police in the UK don't even use water cannon, and rubber bullets haven't been used by british police in decades. There are a few areas which have introduced a handful of Tasers, but these are used by specialist armed response units, not the average bobby on the beat. The idea of launching anything potentially dangerous from the air seem highly unlikely when they don't even use it on the ground.

    Of course that doesn't stop the police from being violent, but when they are it tends to be national news for weeks after. See the death of Ian Tomlinson and the controversial "ketteling" technique used at the demonstrations in the summer for good examples.

    The UK Police are currently trying desperately trying to improve their public image after a lot of bad press from the 2009 demos, and the ongoing harassment of photographers and the abuse of the Section 44 Stop and Search powers. Doing something like this would put them back to square one the moment it goes wrong.

    So while not impossible, this report seemed to be highly speculative and purely designed to get clicks and build paranoia.

    For all their flaws, the UK police are not actually idiots, and in a land where police are not armed, and using a baton in a riot is considered heavy handed, let alone water cannon and rubber bullets, launching Tasers from the sky would be public relations disaster.

  • Wrong URL (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lanxon ( 1713660 ) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @04:57AM (#31097210)
    Nate here from Wired. Somehow the URL Slashdot's pointing to has been truncated. Correct one is:'s-armed-robot-drones.aspx []
  • Re:Idiots on parade (Score:3, Informative)

    by delinear ( 991444 ) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @05:13AM (#31097264)

    I don't understand your hint. I don't know how things work in your area, but round here when cops kill or frame someone it is hushed up by cops and all the evidence is 'lost'. If there is enough of a fuss made, an investigation is held by cops and the results are heavily censored as they are 'not in the public interest'.

    So yeah, if a cop tasers an innocent minor and gets found out, that cop will get suspended on full pay for a few years while an investigation chugs along, then when the fuss has died down and the not guilty verdict brought in he will be reinstated and get the promotions he missed out on while suspended.

    Worst case, they'll give him the opportunity to resign on full pension [] and land a lucrative book deal [], but yeah, they reserve that for the truly corrupt and incompetent.

  • by rabbitfood ( 586031 ) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @06:05AM (#31097502)

    ...but the idea of armed police is an absolute no go...launching Tasers from the sky would be public relations disaster.

    First, the UK's armed police is significantly on the rise (for the Met, deployments have risen over 50% in six years, despite firearm incidents falling), and they're almost part of the landscape in London. Most of them are still static patrols of high-profile locations, but the Met has been actively planning for routine armed patrols [].

    The UK Police also seem immune to legal boundaries - their retention of DNA and the use of 'stop-and-search' have both been ruled illegal, with no discernible effect to date. More worryingly, even in high-profile cases of physical abuse, manslaughter and credit-card fraud, officers have been quietly rewarded rather than disciplined.

    Secondly, they're getting much better at PR. If the Guardian [] is right, they started using the spy drones to scour the coast for immigrants: "There is potential for these [maritime] uses to be projected as a 'good news' story to the public rather than more 'big brother'." And, since then, they've been practicing on the BNP [] (paradoxically an anti-immigration minority party with a poor reputation).

    It would be utterly wrong to conclude that the UK police are power-hungry, trigger-happy thugs with mental deficiencies, lethal toys, immunity from sanction and slick PR skills. But it would be incautious not to consider the possibility.

  • by golden age villain ( 1607173 ) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @06:48AM (#31097764)

    There is almost no violent crime in the UK by US standards (suggesting the surveillance state pays off), [...]

    Nonsense, there is almost no violent crime in most of the Western world by US standards. It doesn't say anything about the efficiency of surveillance in the UK but rather about the climate in the US.

  • by Heed00 ( 1473203 ) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @07:02AM (#31097826)
    In relation to the Jean Charles de Menezes case, the officer in charge, Cressida Dick, has actually been promoted: []

    Not much accountability going around in the U.K.
  • HERTI is not armed (Score:3, Informative)

    by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @07:56AM (#31098086)
    The HERTI is not armed - it is purely reconnaissance. The BAE Fury is the armed version.
  • by Z8 ( 1602647 ) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @10:59AM (#31099602)

    Do you have any statistics to back this up? I went to [] and added up the per capita statistics for murder, rapes, and assaults and it looks like the UK has more violent crime than the US. The US has more murders, but that is a relatively small percentage of violent crime.

    This article [] also says Britain has more violent crime than the US, and has the most crime in Europe. I know it's easy mod points to say anything bad about the U.S., but reasonable people need to try to avoid the temptation unless it's factual.

  • by ChinggisK ( 1133009 ) on Thursday February 11, 2010 @11:27AM (#31099962)
    Uh, what? You did your math wrong, that website shows that the US has higher per capita crimes in ALL of the categories you mentioned. The only thing the UK is higher in is 'total crimes'.
  • fly-tipping (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 11, 2010 @12:06PM (#31100510)
    For those neither British nor interested in Googling it, fly-tipping [] is "illegal dumping" (of trash, etc.) or "littering".

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp