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Stanford's Francis Fukuyama Builds Personal Surveillance Drone 92

HerbieTMac writes "Political science professor Francis Fukuyama builds and flies his own personal surveillance drones. His current model requires ground visibility but he is working on the HAM license that would allow fully remote operation. His YouTube videos (video 1 , video 2) are particularly impressive." I had no idea that Francis Fukuyama had such technical interests.
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Stanford's Francis Fukuyama Builds Personal Surveillance Drone

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  • personal surveillance drones ? Any worse than the random google trucks taking pics of people taking out the trash au naturale? Or is this like if everyone had the power to do a wiretap on demand? What do you guys think
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by daem0n1x ( 748565 )
      With Francis Fukuyama involved, I'm afraid they'll be used to inflict permanent vigilance on all infidels that don't bow to Its Holiness The Almighty Free Market and don't read the Holy Bible Of The End Of History.
      • I reviewed The End of History for my Historiography final in University. It was... awful really. I found his ideas simplistic and his proofs rather poor. I'd read student papers that I found more convincing. I honestly cannot believe that it got as much attention as it did. I was also pretty depressed that I didn't get to do Fredrick Jackson Turner or someone at least vaguely interesting. On the bright side, I got to be pretty snarky in a high level university history paper and still got an "A".

      • Oh shit. I've already been tagged Flamebait. I guess I hit a nerve, hey?

        Never question religious dogmas, the fanatics will band together and mod you down into oblivion.

    • by captainpanic ( 1173915 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @11:37AM (#39033161)

      I prefer the situation where everybody is watching everybody, with nobody in command, to the situation where a powerful government is watching everybody with only a handful in command.

      We cannot stop technology. Cameras are getting too small, and computers too fast and both get too cheap to realistically think they won't be applied on a massive scale. The big question is who controls the data, and what happens to it.

    • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @11:38AM (#39033171) Journal

      If you want one of your own, there are many solutions already available off-the-shelf, the cheapest is the Parrot AR.Drone which is computer-controlled via Wifi. If you want something a bit more serious, Mikrokopter makes kits and sells parts, but if you want more range you'll have to swap computer control via WiFi for a traditional FM remote plus UHF camera.

      • I would not be endorsing the Parrot. They still have problems of the thing just taking off on owners, never to be seen again. Sometimes on the first flight. Seriously, how do you not have a failsafe for that?
        • I lose most RC aircraft that way :-(

          I know an early prototype stuck itself to the roof of a convention hall, but I didn't think they let that problem go unchecked, especially in a vehicle with a full computer on board that should be able to tell that it's climbing into the wild blue yonder without remote input.

          • Check out the Amazon reviews. MULTIPLE owners complaining about this happening and Parrot basically says 'you're fucked, want to buy another?'
    • by ackthpt ( 218170 )

      personal surveillance drones ?

      Any worse than the random google trucks taking pics of people taking out the trash au naturale?

      Or is this like if everyone had the power to do a wiretap on demand?

      What do you guys think

      Considering he's a Political Science Prof, it makes more sense in this early century as surveillence is all the rage for Political reasons (know your enemy, where he shops, where he buys gas and which CostCo is his favourite.)

      Us it against 'em. That's the modern way.

      I know where you were last weekend

  • We all know what happened to the nuclear reactor this guy built on the eastern seaboard of Japan. Will this thing fare any better against a Tsunami? oh, wait. That was Fukushima right? oops. me bad.
    • It's all part of the cover-up. Political Science has everything to do with why we're all now feeling warm fuzzy feelings about Fukushima. Or is that the radiation? Well... What does it matter? With the addition of remote-control drones monitoring radioactivity, we can all sleep soundly, right?
  • Ham license (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @11:15AM (#39032849)

    A ham license might let him operate on different frequencies and with longer range. However the FAA does not allow a radio-control aircraft to operate out of view of the controller under current guidelines.

    • No worries... (Score:5, Informative)

      by msauve ( 701917 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @11:26AM (#39033009)
      The summary was written by Timothy, which means it's only peripherally related to reality.

      The license is so he can do more sophisticated telemetry. FTA:

      I've bought the package that includes a real time video transmitter and receiver, camera, and telemetry system that will send back GPS data on the drone's location, heading, airspeed, etc. This requires, among other things, a ham radio license.

      • by fred911 ( 83970 )

        Working on it?

          Gime a break. Any somewhat educated person should be able to pass the exam for all privs above 30mhz with an hours worth of reading. What's he been smoking?

        • This requires, among other things, a ham radio license.

          I guess he's working on those other things...

        • He's a poly sci professor. Assume dumb as a rock until evidence shows otherwise.

          I posted about flying my scale predator over occupiers/gun shows/tea party/rainbow gathering etc (anybody with paranoid tendencies, which I am deliberately feeding) some months ago and got flamed. Was told I was 'off my meds'.

          Still posting about it, hoping to encourage others to help push the lunatic fringe over the edge.

      • In fairness to Timothy, I wrote the summary. But without realtime video and telemetry, you can't fly out of sight. So my summary is, in fact, correctly stated (currently requires visual contact, HAM license would allow remote operation)

        • by msauve ( 701917 )
          The summary statement that it would allow "fully remote operation," while true, is misleading. The article makes no mention of any intended use other than telemetry. Also, it's "ham," not "HAM." The word is neither an acronym nor a proper noun.
        • FAA requires visual contact at all times.

          They won't be the first to break that rule, nor the last. Perhaps they will be the first prosecuted for doing it so publicly.

          • Replying to self: Building a 'guided missile' is the same offense as building a machine gun (without appropriate licenses). Ten years federal. No joke.

    • by d3ac0n ( 715594 )

      A ham license might let him operate on different frequencies and with longer range. However the FAA does not allow a radio-control aircraft to operate out of view of the controller under current guidelines.


      Under current guidelines the FAA RECOMMENDS that any SUAS not be operated out of LOS (Line Of Sight) of the operator, but it is only a recommendation, NOT law.

      That said, new law that will be coming into effect very soon WILL restrict flights to Line of Sight, but Line of Sight is not tightly de

      • Everywhere in the world is within line of sight to very low frequency transmissions.
      • by Thing 1 ( 178996 )

        That said, new law that will be coming into effect very soon

        Just wanted to hang this off your post, although it's OT, it's definitely "News for Nerds": new laws will require US taxpayers to send in the forms that their investment banks send them. In other words, the US government will no longer accept "your word" that your purchase price was what it was; now, they require the investment houses to provide the government with purchase prices, and your report had damned well better match that, otherwise ... well, you won't be paying more taxes while in prison, so perh

  • ...what with history being over, he needed something else to do.

    • ...what with history being over, he needed something else to do.

      Ha ha. Really, he should feel silly for writing that book. As if the end of one empire really meant the end of history.

  • How Long till Iran downs one?
  • so quit writing it in all caps.

  • See also (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    DIY Drones []

  • by Anonymous Coward
    He taped a video camera to a helicopter. Fun, but doesn't merit the front page of Slashdot and barely qualifies as "surveillance drone".
  • You need to track someone who is on the move, you use one of these and they will take video and keep tabs on him without needing to place a gps on that is very cool, if someone does not know they are being tracked, however, how small does it have to be in order to be effective at not being discovered, as once discovered, they can just shoot out of the sky or go into a place where they can not follow.

    • It's certain to be destruction of government property to purposely sabotage a government drone. So if you're being actively monitored by such a device, you can be pretty sure there's an agent or twelve around the corner from you ready to pounce. You'll get arrested and subjected to search. Also government operated ones will probably be riding pretty high, so picking it off will be difficult. A laser is probably a good idea to blind it, but somehow I suspect it'll fall afoul of the same laws which prohib

  • by Bretski ( 312912 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @11:23AM (#39032967)
    Beside the fact that people have been doing this for years, he built this on a multi-rotor heli platform. Flight times for these are usually under 10 minutes, given the power needed to keep them in the air. If he really wants surveillance with long range, he should try a fixed-wing setup, where flight times can be 30-45 minutes. DIYDRONES.COM is a good place to start.
    • Of course, It's getting better everyday in time [] and distance [].

      On second thought, IMO, Francis is off track, multirotors are cool, but don't fit the use case. That's why the Japan Ministry Of Defense's flying sphere [] has temporary hover capabilities, but it designed to fly horizontally, which is more efficient for long distance--its design fits the search and inspect use case. Now for search and rescue, a multirotor maybe more appropriate.

    • I had a radio controlled "Wild Wing" flying wing with Lithium Ion batteries that had a loiter time of well over an hour, how long I don't know as it always outlasted my patience or bladder.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    More like a RC helicopter with a camera taped to it. How is this news worthy again?

  • I don't see how you get to that conclusion.
    I mean, I understand the fear that the government will want the technology for itself, but the facts do not support the conclusion.

    The main reason I can say this with confidence is that the government has so far built its legal basis for operating these drones on some rather common and pedestrian legal precedents. So to really restrict the usage of drones, the government would have to restrict the kind of laws that allow hobbyists to fly RCs and journalists to do t

  • by quax ( 19371 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @11:28AM (#39033047)

    After all his "End of History" prognosis was spectacularly wrong.

    • Ah, but he totally redeemed himself with his lucidity and insight during his PNAC years...
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @11:30AM (#39033063) Journal
    Well, seeing how brilliantly his forays into the fields of political science and politics have gone, I'd be willing to consider the notion that he ought to consider a change of field...

    At least his little RC toys appear to actually fly, don't cost billions of dollars, and haven't yet crashed into a morass of delusionally bad decision-making.
  • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

    And why should I care?

    And yes I did read the Wikipedia article.

  • by LanceUppercut ( 766964 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @11:52AM (#39033331)
    So you put a typical camera on a typical RC model - something virtually every single RC pilot has been doing for years already. YouTube is choke-full of such videos. Where's the news? The fact that he call it a "personal surveillance drone"? Or the fact that a Stanford professor is playing with a toy) (He should have bought a real non-toy RC model) P.S. And no, HAM radio licence is not sufficient for BVR operation.
    • A personal surveillance drone isn't of much use if you personally have to control it. Is he developing some sort of automation for it, or is it really nothing more than an RC aircraft with a camera?
  • ugh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @12:05PM (#39033479) Homepage
    I don't particularly care what Francis Fukuyama does with his free time, though I guess the more time he spends working on electronics hobbies the less time he can dedicate to screwing up the world through his incompetence. []
    • Wow, the signature list on that letter is like a Who's Who of the worst people in early 21st-century America.

      Note to mods: the parent post is not "offtopic." The story isn't about some random guy building a drone, it's about a specific guy building a drone, and just in case you missed the point, the summary links to the Wikipedia article about the guy! That makes who he is, as well as what he does, a fair topic for conversation. My guess is that whoever slapped nomadic's very insightful post with an "of

  • As a neocon, his nutty ideological BS helped provide fake justifications for the attack on Iraq. Back in the 1940s this sort of thing was considered a crime. Where is the new Nuremberg trial for last decade's war criminals?
    • You're not put on trial for war crimes unless you lose your war. It's one of the unwritten rules of diplomacy, like the flag rule [].
    • Which attack on Iraq? If you're talking about the 2004 invasion, Fukuyama actually publicly came out against the invasion and the overambitious objectives of the Bush administration.

      I wonder how many of those who criticize Fukuyama on this thread have actually read his books.

  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @02:14PM (#39035205) Homepage Journal

    I hear Walmart will be selling them...

    Actually I think it a good idea for the hobbits to get involved in drones with paint ball guns attached ... you know for dog fighting with gov drones...

  • by legont ( 2570191 )
    Here are some Russian folks combining private drones with rather impressive image tech. Anti-government meeting in Moscow [] Occupy Washington [] And more from around the world []
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday February 14, 2012 @02:31PM (#39035425) Homepage

    Several of us have been doing this for years now. []

    I have had a self guided drone that will take off and land on it's own as well as fly to preprogrammed waypoints for over a year now. It runs off of an arduino []

    ham radio ATV is the video feed and I send packet data via cellphone to control it. I am hoping to get a Android phone to make it completely cellular based for video and control to avoid the problem with using Ham radio (long range is a problem with HAM and fast scan ATV.

    I am glad a Professor has finally caught up to us hobbyests that have been dinking with it for years now.

  • You sure are easilly entertained.
  • Reading the article summary, I suddenly imagined a few orbs floating around his body, like WSKRS in SeaQuest DSV.

    Maybe it's time for a break...

  • people will be able to see me with their own eyes, just walking down the street. Oh, wait ...

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