Monday, April 15, 2013

Drones are Everywhere


"The influential head of Google, Eric Schmidt, has called for civilian drone technology to be regulated, warning about privacy and security concerns. Cheap miniature versions of the unmanned aircraft used by militaries could fall into the wrong hands, he told the UK's Guardian newspaper.  Quarrelling neighbours, he suggested, might end up buzzing each other with private surveillance drones.  He also warned of the risk of terrorists using the new technology.  Mr Schmidt is believed to have close relations with US President Barack Obama, whom he advises on matters of science and technology.” -- BBC Technology News here Touted on Slashdot here


Radio Controlled Coast Guard Ship Model
Radio Controlled Crane from ToysRUs

Among the huge, wide, broad and deep array of RC “cars” are replica tanks.  Radio controlled toys mimic just about any mechanism you can imagine. And the technology is 50 years old, back to the first transistors. 

Of course,  good things come in small packages, such as this remote controlled dragonfly.

Back in 1980, the National Association for Rocketry held its annual convention (NARAM 22) in East Lansing. My little sister and I built rockets and went to several launches.  As a result, I heard about the government contracting accomplished model rocket hobbyists to fly cameras over Three Mile Island.  All in all, this is very old technology now.  Altitudes of 2000 meters are typical for record-holders.  The amateur construction record for a rocket is 1648 pounds straight up to 4400 feet, a 1/10 scale Saturn V.

But this should be no surprise.  Wernher von Braun was a member of a club of weekend rocketeers.  When war came, only their social connections gave them access to the decision makers.  They were not sought out by the military or the ruling party.  Even after the effort was funded for militarization, as Willy Ley told it in Rockets, Missiles, and Space Travel, they were thwarted by the need for massive fuel pumps. They began planning a whole enterprise to design and build them.  Then, one of their industrial collaborators told them about fire engines.  The point is that like rockets, military drone aircraft are just an adopted technology. The private sector came first by decades before the military caught on and recognized the new state of the art. 
 Eric Schmidt’s father was Wilson Schmidt, a German American professor of international economics at Johns Hopkins University who worked at the U.S. Treasury Department during the Nixon Administration. … in 2011... Schmidt dated Lisa Shields, a communications executive for the Council on Foreign Relations. ... According to PCWorld, Schmidt also expressed the following sentiment: "if you don’t have anything to hide, you have nothing to fear". ... Schmidt is also a member of the Bilderberg Group. - Wikipedia 
Schmidt is a smart fellow, a Unix wizard who earned his masters wiring up the Berkeley electrical engineering and computer science departments; but, he wants to control your toys. People like him are drawn to centers of political power. That carries a consequence for Google's corporate strategies. Be that as it may, self-propelled, programmed, cybernetic, and autonomic machines have been with us since flyball governors were added to steam engines.

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