Tag Archives: drones

“Numbing And Horrible”: Former Drone Operator Brandon Bryant On His Haunting First Kill (VIDEO)


Former Air Force pilot Brandon Bryant is one of the the first U.S. drone operators to speak out against President Obama’s global assassination program. Bryant served as a sensor operator for the Predator program from 2007 to 2011, manning the camera on the unmanned aerial vehicles that carried out attacks overseas. After he left active duty in the Air Force, he was presented with a certificate that credited his squadron for 1,626 kills. We hear Bryant’s recounting of his first-ever lethal drone strike and the impact it continues to have on him today.

Democracy Now!

Engineers Develop Sonar Navigation, Mapping System For Drones

By: Mike Wooten, Tech Swarm |

Researchers at the University of Georgia are working to bring a new level of precision to the navigation systems used to guide drones. The work is supported through a contract with Southern Company, one of the nation’s largest energy companies, which plans to use unmanned aircraft to enhance safety for crews in the field and improve reliability for customers.

A team in the UGA College of Engineering has designed and tested a prototype that employs ultrasound technology to help unmanned aircraft operators map the interior of large structures and guide their craft to specific locations. The team is led by assistant professor Zion Tse and includes graduate research assistants Stan Gregory and Kevin Wu.

“GPS technology isn’t a good option for what we’re trying to accomplish because it’s not very accurate or reliable indoors,” Wu said. “The margin of error can be up to 5 meters, which is fine if you’re driving your car and dealing with a scale of miles, but we’re dealing with much smaller areas and need a much higher degree of precision.”

The system Wu and the other researchers have designed uses onboard ultrasound sensors to relay information on the aircraft’s location to its operator. The sensor emits sound waves that bounce off walls or other structures and return to the device, in much the same way a bat navigates in dark spaces. The data is then transmitted to a computer where a software program plots the area and tracks the drone’s location.

“People have used drones with cameras to inspect the inside of structures before, but due to limited battery life, they have to bring the drone down quite often,” Gregory said. “Then, when they put the drone back in the air it’s often difficult to find the exact location again by essentially relying on visual cues.”

Gregory said the team tested its guidance and mapping system for the first time this spring at Southern Power’s Plant Franklin in Smiths, Alabama. Southern Power is a subsidiary of Southern Company.

Plant Franklin is designed to capture waste heat from its primary combustion turbines and use the heat to increase the plant’s efficiency. This process happens in an area known as a heat recovery steam generator. Plant Franklin’s three heat recovery steam generator units are 20 feet long, 20 feet wide and reach 70 feet high. The inside of each unit is covered with large, specially treated steel plates.

During routine maintenance-related plant outages, the heat recovery steam generator units are inspected. During these inspections, workers construct temporary scaffolding inside the structures, and inspectors climb along the walls to look for potential problem areas.

“The inspection drone will reduce cost and plant downtime by allowing a single inspector to inspect and assess the recovery system without the need for scaffolding,” Tse said.

Source: University of Georgia

DARPA’s Autonomous Microdrones Designed To Patrol Inside Houses (VIDEOS)


By: Nicholas West | Techswarm

As drone expert, P.W. Singer said, “At this point, it doesn’t really matter if you are against the technology, because it’s coming.” According to Singer, “The miniaturization of drones is where it really gets interesting. You can use these things anywhere, put them anyplace, and the target will never even know they’re being watched.”

This has been the promise that the Air Force made quite clear in their video early last year about nanodrone tech that you can see below. According to the USAF, Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs), combined with the ability to harvest energy, will enable insect-sized drone swarms to be dropped from military aircraft to stay aloft for a prolonged amount of time, offering a host of functions, including assassination.

DARPA is now announcing a new wave of these microdrones under the Fast Lightweight Autonomy program. As the name indicates, they ideally would like humans to be completely removed from the control process.

For now, they clearly state “overseas” as the theater of operation, but it doesn’t take much imagination to see how these microdrones could be applied in the U.S., especially amid an increasingly tense urban environment in the wake of confrontations with domestic police. And, as always, the tantalizing application in disaster relief paves the way for easy introduction.  

(My emphasis added in press release)


DARPA aims to give small unmanned aerial vehicles advanced perception and autonomy to rapidly search buildings or other cluttered environments without teleoperation.

Military teams patrolling dangerous urban environments overseas and rescue teams responding to disasters such as earthquakes or floods currently rely on remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicles to provide a bird’s-eye view of the situation and spot threats that can’t be seen from the ground. But to know what’s going on inside an unstable building or a threatening indoor space often requires physical entry, which can put troops or civilian response teams in danger.

To address these challenges, DARPA issued a Broad Agency Announcement solicitation today for the Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program. FLA focuses on creating a new class of algorithms to enable small, unmanned aerial vehicles to quickly navigate a labyrinth of rooms, stairways and corridors or other obstacle-filled environments without a remote pilot. The solicitation is available here:

The program aims to develop and demonstrate autonomous UAVs small enough to fit through an open window and able to fly at speeds up to 20 meters per second (45 miles per hour)—while navigating within complex indoor spaces independent of communication with outside operators or sensors and without reliance on GPS waypoints.

“Birds of prey and flying insects exhibit the kinds of capabilities we want for small UAVs,” said Mark Micire, DARPA program manager. “Goshawks, for example, can fly very fast through a dense forest without smacking into a tree. Many insects, too, can dart and hover with incredible speed and precision. The goal of the FLA program is to explore non-traditional perception and autonomy methods that would give small UAVs the capacity to perform in a similar way, including an ability to easily navigate tight spaces at high speed and quickly recognize if it had already been in a room before.

If successful, the algorithms developed in the program could enhance unmanned system capabilities by reducing the amount of processing power, communications, and human intervention needed for low-level tasks, such as navigation around obstacles in a cluttered environment. The initial focus is on UAVs, but advances made through the FLA program could potentially be applied to ground, marine and underwater systems, which could be especially useful in GPS-degraded or denied environments.

“Urban and disaster relief operations would be obvious key beneficiaries, but applications for this technology could extend to a wide variety of missions using small and large unmanned systems linked together with manned platforms as a system of systems,” said Stefanie Tompkins, director of DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office. “By enabling unmanned systems to learn ‘muscle memory’ and perception for basic tasks like avoiding obstacles, it would relieve overload and stress on human operators so they can focus on supervising the systems and executing the larger mission.”

Since the focus of the program is improving perception and reducing dependence on external sources—as opposed to designing new small UAVs—DARPA will provide performers selected for the program with the same small UAV testbed as government-furnished equipment.

Source: DARPA


Laser Equipped Drones Could Arrive Within 2 Years (VIDEOS)

By: Nicholas West, Tech Swarm |

The global drone arms race continues to accelerate. Now that it’s a foregone conclusion that every country will have armed drones within 10 years, the only race left is to acquire the most powerful weaponized drones – preferably coupled with the most sophisticated anti-drone technology.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., or GAASI,  the San Diego-based company that makes the Predator and Reaper drones, is undertaking a privately funded study to integrate a 150-kilowatt solid-state laser onto its Avenger (née Predator-C) drone. If the company succeeds, a drone with a high-energy laser will be a reality at some point in 2017, company executives told Defense One.

Despite the fact that the standard weaponized drone is often not as accurate as it is touted to be, resulting in widespread civilian casualties, the Vice President of Mission Systems for General Atomics admits that integrating laser weapons onto drone platforms increases lethal power, but is currently thought to be even more difficult to control than Hellfire missiles.

In addition to 5 times the power, the significant increase in beam quality provides significantly higher lethality than the system on the Ponce.

Bringing these two technologies together involves a lot more than strapping a laser cannon under the drone’s wings. Hitting a target with a laser mounted on a vibrating platform moving quickly through air laden with dust and water vapor is tougher than launching a Hellfire at a moving vehicle.

Nevertheless, researchers believe that they are toward the tail end of what has already been a 15-year commitment to laser weapons being applied to aircraft. General Atomics remains optimistic despite other hurdles on the way to making this a reality.

…Perry says that laser drones will require an entirely new software load (let’s hope non-hackable – N.W.), and that’s not all: “You’ll have a whole new concept of operations. Completely new training will be required,” he said.

The first video below shows the concept upon which the new system is being built and applied to aircraft. Most significant, however, is the second video also from General Atomics highlighting the path not only to laser drones, but fully autonomous drone systems equipped with what has been called a “death ray.” The second video was released in 2012, making one thing clear: General Atomics is fully committed to realizing its vision of the future.

Main Source:

H/T –

Nicholas West writes for and

Good Kill

good kill

Op ED Commentary

                                ” …  Not in Our Stars…..” 

Just watched Andrew Niccol’s new film Good Kill. In it we have an Air Force unit stationed in Las Vegas that monitors the Taliban through satellites 7000 miles away… then presses the button and shoots drone missiles at them… and kills them. O f course, as the film suggests,  good kills many times include what war criminal Donald Rumsfeld referred to as collateral damage. This of course being anyone and everyone who happened to be with or near the target that their CIA handlers referred to as  ‘ The Prosecution’. UNreal, but real as can be! As the film progresses, we see how two in the five person unit begin to question if the ‘kills’ are really justified, especially when the CIA takes over command from the Pentagon. To watch a group of United States Air Force personnel sitting in front of computer terminals and doing what a CIA man at Langley, Virginia orders them to do, with absolutely NO sensitivity either way, is downright frightening! The colonel who runs the unit tells them that ‘ orders are orders ‘ as he reluctantly keeps them on message. Two other members of the unit, real believers in this ‘War on Terror’, applaud the payback our missiles execute towards the A-Rab sins of 9/11.They show the same exhilaration that the 2007 Apache Helicopter crew exhibited when they massacred 19 unarmed Iraqis just strolling through the streets in full daylight. Phony wars and foolish occupations transform young soldiers into 10 year old boys playing an overkill video game. One of the most heinous scenes from Good Kill was when the CIA ordered them to ‘prosecute’ a supposed  Taliban bomb making building. As the missiles are released by Major Egan at his console, they notice two young kids running and playing by the building. There is time to ‘abort’ and permission is asked for. The CIA handler tells them NO! This is part of the ‘War on Terror’ and some lives must be sacrificed for the end result.

The Nazi ‘ethnic cleansing’ machine was successful because everyone down the chain of command always ‘followed orders’. Things got so bad for the troops ordered to execute the Jews of Russia and Poland, that replacements had to be continually found to do the killing. Many of the young soldiers suffered from what is now labeled ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’. Such was the case of Major Tom Egan in Good Kill. Yet perhaps unrealized by many viewers was the fact that his ongoing desire was to ‘get back into combat flying’. So, he too was a ‘believer’ in this empire’s war against the bad guys. If not, then where was the ‘just war’ he wished to return into? Of course, to those of us who dissent against these ‘sins of empire’, our nation belongs nowhere abroad… period!! What is really more horrific than even those far off assassinations from the film is how many of my fellow Americans could not give a damn about anything like that. So long as the sun rises and sets on their secure little lives, why should they take the time to actually THINK AND REASON? It is their apathy and inaction that allows our empire to conduct these heinous acts abroad. As Sinclair Lewis satirized ( was it? ) in his novel It Can’t Happen Here, things can get pretty testy when the state is run by Fascists or Neo Fascists.

If one follows the mainstream political climate, one sees that all we get from either major party is more money spent for the Military Industrial Empire. All the Republican aspirants for president sing the ‘More money for defense’ song. Hillary Clinton,  Joe Biden and yes even Bernie Sanders sing along with Mr. Obama praises for our drone missile campaign, which increased tenfold under a Democratic president. Bernie Sanders at least does want there to be military spending cuts, BUT makes sure his message  for  those cuts ( and never  even close to enough at all )is always at the bottom of his list of ‘To do when elected’ . And the public? The fools who believe the rhetoric of this ‘War on Terror’ can never be reached with rational arguments… until of course the economy collapses even further for them and their families. Even then, the propaganda will blame it on everything BUT the Military Industrial Empire that takes in over half of their tax dollars.

The truth, dear Brutus, is not in our stars… but in ourselves!

Philip A Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn, NYC longshoremen. He is a free lance columnist (found on Information Clearing house, The Sleuth Journal, Doomstead Diner, Op Ed News, Dandelion Salad, Activist Post, Dissident Voice and many other sites worldwide). Philip works as an environmental products sales rep and has been an activist leader since 2000. In 2010 he became a local spokesperson for the 25% Solution Movement to Save Our Cities by cutting military spending 25%. Philip can be reached at [email protected].

DHS Drones Equipped To Eavesdrop On Americans


The US Department of Homeland Security already has an arsenal of drones to be deployed for whatever the agency deems fit, but the actual capabilities of those vehicles exceed what many Americans may expect.

The unmanned drones being used inside of the United States right now can’t shoot Hellfire missiles like their overseas counterparts. They can, however, conduct surveillance, intercept communications and even determine whether or not a person thousands of feet below the aircraft is armed.

The latest revelation comes courtesy of a DHS document that was recently obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, or EPIC, through a Freedom of Information Act request. After analyzing a partially-redacted drone “performance specification” file received through their FOIA plea, EPIC said that records indicate “the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection is operating drones in the United States capable of intercepting electronic communications.”

Of the ten Predator B drones currently maintained by the agency, EPIC adds that the document confirms that those aircraft “have the capacity to recognize and identify a person on the ground.”

“The records obtained by EPIC raise questions about the agency’s compliance with federal privacy laws and the scope of domestic surveillance,” the center writes on their website this week.

Speaking to CNet, EPIC’s Open Government Project director, Ginger McCall, says the discovery shows just how dangerous drones could be to the privacy of the millions of Americans who could have drones overhead right this moment.

“The documents clearly evidence that the Department of Homeland Security is developing drones with signals interception technology and the capability to identify people on the ground,” McCall says. “This allows for invasive surveillance, including potential communications surveillance, that could run afoul of federal privacy laws.”

Since EPIC published their FOID’d documents last week, Cnet has managed to scrounge up an unredacted copy that outlines what the DHS was looking for in drones when the report was written in 2010. Specifically, the performance specifications note that while the DHS is not implementing drones for eavesdropping on America right now, “Further tasks, such as communication relay and interception, although not yet evaluated in the field, are assessed to also be best performed” by the unmanned aerial vehicles.

Additionally, DHS drones must “be capable of identifying a standing human being at night as likely armed or not” and “be capable of marking a target into a retrievable database.” No information is given as to what database that refers to, but a Homeland Security official speaking on condition of anonymity tells DHS that the drones lack — for now, at least — the ability to read a subject’s face to find out who they are.

“The drones are able to identify whether movement on the ground comes from a human or an animal, but that they do not perform facial recognition,” Cnet reporter Declan McCullagh says the DHS source’s claims.

“Any potential deployment of such technology in the future would be implemented in full consideration of civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy interests and in a manner consistent with the law and long standing law enforcement practices,” the source adds.

The Homeland Security department’s drones are currently used to allow federal officials to monitor any criminal activity on America’s borders to the north and south. As RT reported recently, however, a 2012 Supreme Court ruling determined that the government can conduct border patrol operations within 100 miles of an international crossing. By that logic, the approximately 200 million Americans residing within that parameter are subject to Border Patrol searches and, perhaps soon enough, surveillance drones.

Source: RT

It Begins: US Drones Attack Syria’s Military


On September 11, a publication called Russian Spring reported US unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks on Syrian military positions – “disguised as an airstrike on ISIS.”

Syrian journalists learned details of what’s happening. Numerous civilians were killed. According to Syrian military sources, covert US drone strikes against its forces and positions happened before, part of Washington’s phony war on ISIS.

On September 1, the Washington Post headlined “US launches secret drone campaign to hunt Islamic State leaders in Syria,” saying:

CIA and US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) operatives “are flying drones over Syria” – conducting targeted air strikes. WaPo lied claiming it’s against “senior Islamic State operatives,” citing official US sources.

Obama’s stepped up bombing complicit with Britain, France, Canada, Australia and Israel heads thing closer to full-scale naked aggression – to destroy Syrian sovereignty, eliminate an Israeli rival, and isolate Iran ahead of perhaps inventing a pretext to attack the Islamic Republic.

War plans were made years ago, updated as needed. The Iran nuclear deal did nothing to change longstanding US hostility toward Tehran.

Regime change remains official US policy – wanting Iranian sovereign independence destroyed like what’s ongoing in Syria. Maybe Washington has an Islamic State invasion in mind, perhaps aided by US air power.

America targets all independent government worldwide for regime change – wanting subservient US-controlled vassal states replacing them, a nightmarish scenario for endless conflicts, mass slaughter and destruction and possible nuclear war threatening everyone, everywhere if launched.

Previous articles explained Washington uses ISIS terrorists as US proxy foot soldiers. Obama’s Iraq and Syria bombing campaigns support them, targeting infrastructure, and apparently Syrian military positions.

In September 2014, Sergey Lavrov said if the US and other Western forces bomb Syria, “(t)here are reasons to suspect (the campaign may attack) government troops…on the quiet to weaken the positions of Bashar Assad’s army.”

He commented shortly after Obama announced US plans to allegedly bomb ISIS in Syria – a ruse, part of Washington’s plan to oust Assad.

On September 13, on Russia’s Channel 1 Sunday Times program, Lavrov said, “Russia has information that the US knows the position of the ISIS, but does not bomb them.”

Its actions don’t reflect its publicly stated objective. “Analyzing (them), one cannot but suspect…ulterior motives beyond the stated goal of fighting the Islamic State,” said Lavrov.

“Some our colleagues among the coalition members told us they sometimes knew where certain ISIL regiments were stationed but the coalition’s command – which is, obviously, the US – did not give them the permission for an airstrike.” Washington “conspired towards goals that were not declared ones.”

Its war on Syrian sovereignty continues despite Western nations saying “they clearly understand (ISIS) is the main threat in the Middle East and North Africa,” not Assad.

“If everyone realizes that, but many whisper it, fearing to say it out loud, it is necessary to implement that in action.”

Lavrov explained Russia will continue fulfilling its contractual obligations to Syria – supplying arms, munitions, and training, as well as humanitarian aid. “These are no mysteries or secrets,” he explained. “Our military-technical cooperation seeks to” defeat ISIS.

Washington uses mercenary terrorists and its military might to advance its imperium – by crushing fundamental freedoms wherever they exist, including at home, complicit with rogue partners.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]. His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”. Visit his blog site at

60 Police Departments Testing Drones In The US; More To Come As “Public Grows Comfortable”

Drone Protest
By: Joe Wright |

Anyone who was called crazy for shouting from the rooftops back in 2005 when the first sign of drone testing in the United States was uncovered appears to have been vindicated.  Small comfort as we are finally coming face to face with the consequences of our apathy.

North Dakota made international news recently as the first state to legalize weaponized drones for use upon its own citizens.  But this still isn’t enough evidence for those whose heads remain buried in the sands of (they hope) blissful ignorance.

Several stunning revelations come from a mainstream media article that seems to accurately identify the problem: “Drone Policing in US Seen as ‘Wild West’.” AFP cites the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s discovery that “60 police forces across the country — from Houston, Texas, to Mobile, Alabama, North Little Rock, Arkansas, and Miami-Dade County — have asked for drone certification” and that, “Up to two dozen police forces are currently fully equipped with drones and trained to use them, including pioneers Grand Forks in North Dakota; Arlington, Texas; Mesa County, Colorado and the Utah Highway Patrol.”

Naturally, these police departments are attempting to justify drones as far cheaper alternatives to helicopters and other conventional aircraft. But that actually exacerbates the real problem, which is that it becoming cheaper and cheaper to institute pervasive surveillance and tracking … and now weaponization.

There have been some positive signs of semi-awakening to this reality, however.  The actual sponsor of North Dakota’s drone legislation is having second thoughts and is aiming to change the law within two years, claiming that the police union imposed an amendment that directly reversed his original intent. Some of the more educated and active areas of the country have also pushed back hard against their department’s drone initiatives forcing police to abandon their fast-track plans.

However, a disturbing comment appears in the AFP article from a Director at the Teal Group Corporation, an aerospace defense contractor that obviously would love to see a drone swarm in every town. Philip Finnegan acknowledges that there is some “political risk” at the moment, but is betting on the short-term memory of the American population, as well as their tendency to become acclimatized to all of the trappings of a full-blown police state.

He predicted that the commercial market will take off within five years as the public grows increasingly comfortable with drones and law enforcement uses them more.

So there you have the mentality of those who would profit from the further eradication of liberty inside the United States … just wait it out, you’ll give up and take it eventually.

This little device delivers turnkey Internet privacy and security (Ad)


Don’t become comfortable; spread the word and resist now, because if we think we currently have problems with a brutal police force imagine that force empowered by the same joystick surveillance and weapons that have taken over in “enemy territory.”

Where does your local police force stand on the use of drones? Please leave your comments below.

Joe Wright’s articles can be found at

Obama’s Covert Drone War On Syria


Obama’s war on Syria is in its fifth year – naked aggression partnered with Israel, Britain, France, Canada and rogue regional states, using imported death squad foot soldiers against a sovereign independent country threatening no others.

On September 1, the Washington Post headlined  “US launches secret drone campaign to hunt Islamic State leaders in Syria.”

False!! IS leaders and foot soldiers are US enlisted proxies – funded, armed, trained, directed and deployed cross-border against the Assad government.

Washington’s bombing campaign (including use of drones) targets Syrian infrastructure, as well as providing air support for IS and other imported terrorist fighters.

Not according to WaPo, saying “(t)he CIA and US Special Operations forces have launched a secret campaign to hunt terrorism suspects in Syria as part of a targeted killing program that is run separately from the broader US military offensive against the Islamic State” – citing unnamed US officials as its source.

An earlier article discussed CIA operatives involved in arming and training US proxy death squad fighters – deployed to Syria against Assad, smuggled across Turkey’s border. Entering through Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.

A separate article explained UK SAS special forces covertly operating in Syria – dressed as Islamic State fighters, suggesting US special forces may be involved the same way, attacking Syrian targets on the pretext of fighting IS.

WaPo reported US propaganda claiming CIA and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) operatives “are flying drones over Syria in a collaboration responsible for several recent strikes against senior Islamic State operatives, the officials said.”

“Among those killed was a British militant thought to be an architect of the terrorist group’s effort to use social media to incite attacks in the United States.”

WaPo ignored CIA and perhaps US special forces involved in Syria since at least 2012, likely before war was launched.

Instead, it said “its clandestine program represents a significant escalation of the CIA’s involvement in the war in Syria.”

Claiming “high-value (IS) targets” are attacked is polar opposite truth. Washington uses them against Assad, wanting him ousted, replaced by a pro-Western/US controlled puppet.

Claiming the drone campaign “reflects rising anxiety among US counterterrorism officials about the danger the Islamic State poses, as well as frustration with the failure of conventional strikes to degrade the group’s strength” is subterfuge, concealing Washington’s real mission.

The way to defeat the Islamic State is simple. Stop supporting it with arms, funding, training and direction.

Near the end of its detailed report, WaPo admitted “(t)he CIA has long-standing ties to the Jordanian intelligence service and operates clandestine bases in that country where the agency has trained and armed thousands of fighters sent back into Syria’s civil war.”

The same goes for Turkey. Israel is involved. What’s ongoing is part of Washington longstanding agenda to eliminate all independent governments worldwide, replace them with US-controlled stooge regimes, pillage global resources, and exploit populations everywhere.

Its hegemonic aims are reckless – an agenda threatening humanity’s survival.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]. His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”. Visit his blog site at

Drones On A Leash – Could ”Tethered Drones” Increase Safety Or Expand Permanent Surveillance?

drone Watt200_flight3_new

By: Jason Erickson, Tech Swarm |

Although drones have been all but welcomed into American skies by the U.S. government, the devil still remains in the details.

The proliferation of drones for hobby, commercial, or law enforcement has faced some significant setbacks, while still marching forward as though it’s inevitable that drones will be part of the future landscape in America.

There are several issues at play, especially when it comes to smaller drones such as the quadcopters that tend to be used most by hobbyists, journalists and local law enforcement. The primary issue is of course privacy, as it appears that even sunbathing 200 feet in the air on a wind turbine doesn’t guarantee a bit of seclusion these days. But, in tandem with that, is the idea that a remote-controlled device equipped with fast-spinning blades is becoming an increasing part of the public experience, which one man recently likened to a “flying lawnmower.”

One company believes they have found a solution that might work to help alleviate safety concerns: essentially putting drones on a leash.

The Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership at Virginia Tech will collaborate with Drone Aviation Holding Corp., a Jacksonville-based aviation company, to research, test, and advance the commercialization of the company’s tethered unmanned aircraft systems, also known as drones.

The organizations began test flights this month in Jacksonville, Florida, to explore the reliability, safety, and commercial-use cases for the company’s family of tethered drones, and ultimately report the results to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“We are excited to demonstrate the advantages and many potential civil and commercial uses of our tethered drones,” said Jay Nussbaum, chairman of Drone Aviation Holding Corp. “This ongoing partnership will focus on evaluating the increased safety features and technical advantages of our tethered drones and sharing that data with the FAA for the potential commercial deployment of ‘WATT’ systems into the national airspace for first responders and commercial entities.”

The FAA selected the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership at Virginia Tech in December, 2013, as one of six national test sites to conduct research to integrate unmanned aircraft into the nation’s airspace. Since then, the partnership has worked with unmanned aircraft systems to aid emergency responders, survey energy pipeline infrastructure, study agricultural land, and teach reporters to cover news.

“At Virginia Tech, we see tremendous opportunity for tethered-drone technology because of its unique capabilities and safety profile, making it applicable to a large number of applications from news broadcasting to emergency response and facility security,” said Rose Mooney, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, headquartered at the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science at Virginia Tech. “We look forward to working with Drone Aviation Holding Corp., the FAA, and our consortium partners to explore the commercial application of this this novel UAS technology.”

The WATT-200 is designed to safely provide secure and reliable aerial monitoring for extended durations while being tethered to the ground via a high strength armored tether. Unlike hobbyist drones or manned aircraft, the WATT model delivers the long-flight duration and commercial grade, real-time video-monitoring capabilities day or night, the company said.


While it is commendable to look for solutions that will prevent the type of free-for-all that is developing in the small drone sector, the idea of tethered drones sounds like the possible establishment of fixed drone outposts. In a society that already is plagued by excessive surveillance, is this just one more step toward the expansion of an all-seeing eye?

Jason Erickson writes for TechSwarm

Pentagon Plans Escalated Drone Killings

predator drone

Drones are instruments of state terror. Washington’s official narrative is pure rubbish – claiming terrorists alone are targeted, civilians aren’t killed, and drone warfare makes America safer.

Fact: Attacks are indiscriminate extrajudicial executions – in flagrant violation of core international law.

Fact: Few so-called “high value” targets are eliminated.

Fact: Large numbers of civilian men, women and children are murdered in cold blood. International law protecting them in combat theaters is ignored.

Fact: Bodies of innocent victims are blasted into unrecognizable pieces or burned beyond recognition.

Fact: Family members, bystanders and rescuers are killed or maimed by what’s called “double tapping” – striking the targeted area two or more times.

Fact: Drone warfare facilitates anti-American recruitment. It elevates the US to greater pariah state status. It’s state-sanctioned murder – undermining respect for rule of law principles.

Pentagon officials aren’t satisfied. They plan expanding drone attacks by 50% in the next four years – from around 60 daily to 90, an agenda for escalated mass slaughter and destruction, as well as greater aerial spying over wider areas.

It’s part of America’s war on humanity worldwide – endless conflicts for unchallenged global dominance, ravaging, destroying and pillaging one country after another.

Drone warfare alone kills thousands of victims. Washington suppresses casualty figures to keep its Murder, Inc. campaign secret.

By 1919, Pentagon planners intend having the air force fly 60 daily flights, the army 16, Special Operations Command four, and private military contractors 10 or more.

An earlier report said only 84 of 2,379 drone attack victims in Pakistan since 2004 were Al Qaeda members. Only 295 were members of an armed group.

John Kerry claiming “(t)he only people we fire at are confirmed terror targets at the highest level” is one of his many Big Lies.

Indiscriminately slaughtering civilians is longstanding US policy since the beginning of the republic. Only weapons, targets and tactics change over time.

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden turned truth on its head claiming targeted drone strikes assure “near-certainty” of no civilians killed. She ludicrously called exceptions “rare instances.”

Drone warfare under Obama exceeds all his predecessors combined. Cold-blooded murder is official administration policy.

Noncombatants suffer most – innocent men, women and children in harm’s way. Drones hover 24-hours a day over targeted areas – striking homes, vehicles and public spaces without warning.

Residents are terrorized, constantly fearful, knowing deadly strikes can happen any time, with no way to protect themselves.

Britain’s Reprieve human rights group estimates 28 noncombatants killed to eliminate one so-called terrorist. There’s nothing precise about indiscriminate slaughter.

US drone warfare kills thousands extrajudicially. No due process. No judicial fairness, just cold-blooded murder in countries threatening no others – part of America’s war OF terror on humanity.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]. His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”. Visit his blog site at

The Ongoing Mission To Teach Drones To Think For Themselves


By: Tech Swarm |

The popular term “drone,” which conjures images of remote-controlled flying zombies, is becoming less and less descriptive of the latest unmanned aerial vehicles. New applications are requiring more autonomy and intelligence from UAVs.

“When people think about drones, they largely think of big military assets that are flying high in the sky where there’s not a whole lot of anything to hit,” says Nick Roy, director of CSAIL’s Robust Robotics Group. “But there are a lot of applications for smaller scale UAVs working closer to the ground that require more autonomy, such as agricultural monitoring, package delivery, and situational awareness for first responders.”

Teaching UAVs and other robots to think for themselves is RRG’s central mission. “We want UAVs to be able to operate in urban environments, to get useful things done, and interact with people,” says Roy. “We want them to become as intelligent as they need to be for the task at hand.”

Roy has recently focused more on UAVs than terrestrial robots, although many of the principles and algorithms are similar. UAVs will require more autonomy to avoid collisions and crashes, as well as to understand what’s happening around them. Some level of reliable autonomous operation will be essential if the FAA is to fully permit commercial applications in the U.S.

“It’s not just about avoiding obstacles, but about understanding the environment and what’s safe and unsafe,” says Roy. “UAVs need to understand their own behavior in terms of reliability and performance, and also to understand how people want them to do things.”

Project Wing and Hybrid Fixed-wing UAVs

In 2012, Roy accepted a sabbatical position at Google X to help launch Project Wing, a project with the goal of demonstrating the viability of product delivery using UAVs. After Roy and his team completed a prototype in August 2014, Google was convinced it was time to move to the product phase. Roy returned to MIT last year, but continues to consult with the project while MIT alumnus Dave Vos (PhD 1996) helps steer Project Wing to the next level.

Project Wing is a hybrid aircraft instead of the typical quadrotor designs of the type that has dominated academic research and the consumer UAV market in general. Although it does use four rotors like a typical DJI Phantom or 3DR quadrotor, the rotors normally perform like airplane propellers. When the craft reaches its target to drop a package, it tilts upward so it can hover like a quadrotor.

This “tail sitter” design is a revision of an old idea that has yet to be proven commercially feasible. “Hybrid vehicles like tail sitters, tilt rotors, tilt props, or vehicles with two propulsion systems, have been explored throughout the history of aviation,” says Roy. “But enough things have changed to make them worth trying again. Our ability to manufacture small vehicles and put computation and modern control systems onboard means the things that once were hard are relatively easy now.”

Compared to quadrotors, conventional fixed wing craft have obvious limitations, including the need for a runway and the requirement for a minimum speed to remain airborne, says Roy. Yet, “fixed wing craft are a lot more efficient in flight and can stay up much, much longer,” he adds. Meanwhile, the new hybrid designs promise to combine the best of both technologies.

Although Roy is focused more on software than hardware, he must keep up on all the last technologies, especially sensors, which help shape the way the UAV thinks. Spurred on by the need to reduce weight and power consumption, for example, some UAV researchers are aiming to use lightweight, low-cost cameras for navigation, rather than requiring LIDAR equipment or 3D cameras.

“Passive cameras give you an understanding of the scene that I think will be important in the future,” says Roy. “Pure vision-based navigation has yet to work reliably, but the field has progressed a lot. I’m excited about how we might use passive cameras to help UAVs navigate on their own.”

In the meantime, no single sensor technology is the right answer, says Roy. “GPS has issues in urban environments and cameras have issues especially at night,” he says. “A lot of my group’s recent research has focused on accurate ranging, whether it’s a laser range finder or a 3D camera. Those sensors are heavy and don’t work in every domain. The right answer will probably lie in a fusion of sensors.”

The World Through Our Eyes

Delivery UAVs like Project Wing or Amazon’s prototype will need more autonomy and intelligence than a typical UAV used for crop monitoring or filming commercials. This is especially true if the UAV is expected to drop off and pick up packages in urban environments.

“The UAV will need to be smart enough to reason about its own performance and impending failures,” says Roy. “Autonomy is the biggest challenge facing integration in the airspace. Vehicles need autonomy in order to recover from failures, and to see other aircraft and not hit them. They need autonomy to interact with air traffic control and play nicely in the national airspace.”

Researchers at CSAIL and elsewhere have focused on imbuing robots with object recognition, but that’s only the beginning. A greater challenge is to bridge the gap between the fundamentally different ways in which people and robots think.

“Robots think about the world in terms of very low level geometry,” says Roy. “They don’t think of walls as walls, but rather as pixels they can’t drive through. To work with people, robots must understand what things are for. To ask a robot to collect a box or load a truck, it needs the semantic understanding of what these objects are.”

Roy is focused less on object recognition itself than on helping robots “understand how objects are distributed and how they can interact with them,” he says. “Once you have object detection or scene understanding, you can move to the next step: showing the robot how to use this understanding to make decisions.”

One of Roy’s students, for example, is attempting to improve UAVs’ understanding of wind patterns in the urban environment. The UAVs could then use that knowledge to avoid turbulence or choose minimal energy routes.

Despite the continuing advance of computer miniaturization, the weight and power limitations of UAVs will continue to challenge their ability to process information quickly enough to make timely decisions. Rapidly fusing and integrating data from multiple sensors poses “computational challenges that are outside the scope of real-time systems like UAVs,” says Roy. “A lot of my research involves finding useful approximations that involve getting very good answers at the cost of a little accuracy and precision.”

These approximation algorithms were put to work in Roy’s recent experiments in which a fixed wing vehicle carrying a laser range finder flew at speed around the tightly constrained environment of a parking garage. “If you were to try to incorporate the laser range finder into the full-state estimate of the vehicle’s 12 degrees of freedom, the computation would get intractable,” says Roy. “But if you break the problem apart into the bits that the laser finder can see at any one time, you can still get the right answer, but much more efficiently than if you ask the laser to ‘reason develop’ the entire system at once.”

Source: MIT

– See more at:

Defeating Drones: How To Build A Thermal Evasion Suit (VIDEO)


This article was written by Brandon Smith and the included video was a joint project between Oath Keepers and Alt-Market

Asymmetric tactics rely on the idea of fighting smarter, rather than fighting directly, against a larger or more technologically advanced aggressor. It means turning your opponent’s strengths into weaknesses.

For instance, if your opponent relies on the superiority of his tanks and armor, make him fight in the mountains where his armor is useless. If he relies on air superiority, make him sift through a thick canopy where his eye in the sky sees nothing, or make it dangerous for him to land and refuel such vehicles at all. If he relies on body armor for safety, make him fight uphill so that the extra weight wears him down. If his surveillance and security techniques are a little too sensitive and effective, create constant false positives, until he can no longer trust his own alert systems. And, if most of his weaponry and soldiers are heavily reliant on a particular piece of technology, make that technology useless in the field. Force your opponent to fight on fairer ground, where the man with the most skill and intelligence prevails rather than the man with the most million dollar toys.

There is no such thing as fool proof combat technology. There is a way to trick or defeat or survive ANY weapon and any enemy. Period.

Drones and thermal vision have been held up to the common citizenry for years as the end-all-be-all of combat and surveillance technology. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the claim that no one can hide from thermal imaging and that predator drones herald the end of free resistance to tyranny. I find this assertion to be rather absurd, considering militaries across the globe have already developed their own thermal evasion suits (which means it IS possible to hide from thermal vision) and drones seem to kill more innocent bystanders than actual enemy combatants. I will admit that thermal vision use is skyrocketing amongst military and police across the board, and this is because it is indeed effective to a point.

Thermal imaging and drones in the hands of a corrupt establishment make a couple of things very difficult for any resistance – First, you might be able to hide, but you won’t be able to move freely without risk, especially in groups. Second, you might be able to act defensively, but never offensively. Advancing on an objective protected by thermal surveillance would be extremely difficult. Constantly being on the defensive takes the initiative away from those who want to fight back against tyranny. Without the ability to go on the offensive, you will inevitably lose. Hiding in a hole in the mountains for the rest of your life is not an option if you want your children and their children to experience liberty.

Today’s combat reality is that of the digitized battlefield. All modern military units now rely on full spectrum surveillance, computer models, and real time data. Thermal vision is a cornerstone of this model because it is currently the best way to identify potential threats before they can act, rather than after they act. Unfortunately, there is no doubt this kind of surveillance power will be misused, and the spread of drones for domestic applications proves that the establishment’s intention is to utilize thermal against the population, rather than in defense of the population. Therefore, thermal vision must be negated if people are to remain free. We might not be able to fight against misused drones directly, but we can make their primary advantage useless. Here is how it is possible to remove thermal vision as a threat, and thus nullify the primary strength of the drones (and other weapons) in our skies:

Thermal Vision And Drone Misconceptions

Now that you know it is more than possible for civilians to obtain thermal evasion, lets go over some of the most common misconceptions about thermal imaging and drone technology.

Building a suit that hides a person from thermal imaging is impossible?

Clearly, this is false, as we have shown in the video above. Add to this the fact that military units field their own thermal evasion suits (multi-spectral camouflage) for special purposes, and I think we’ve permanently buried the ludicrous assumption that a thermal evasion suit is a fruitless endeavor. Most existing suits, including those used by governments, boast a thermal reduction rating of 60% to 80%. It is important to recognize that there is currently no organization or company offering thermal evasion suits for widespread use by civilians. We have given the public free access to information on building their own suits if they wish, and we are offering professionally made suits for sale with a thermal reduction rating of 90% or more at Snakebite Tactical.

We made no attempt to hide “heat spots” within the tests in the above video. We want to make it clear that this is a 90% effective suit, which is more than enough for almost any application. Achieving 100% reduction at distances of 10 ft to 10 yards in a wearable suit is very difficult, and a person would still need to practice proper field craft in order to remain unseen. However, we believe our suit design more than meets the standards of currently issued military grade suits; suits which are not available to the public anyway.

Thermal imaging sees through walls?

This is movie-land nonsense. A thermal imager can see the heat you emit through a very thin wall if you are leaning against it, but remove your body from contact with the surface and the heat signature will disappear. Thermal imagers have a difficult time identifying stationary people through leaves and the branches of trees, let alone walls. As long as you are not in contact with the item, your heat will not be seen through the item.

Thermal vision sees through forests?

No. Not a chance. In fact, if your only goal is to hide, then a thick forest is the absolute best place to be if thermal surveillance is in use, even without a suit. If your plan is to advance on an objective, then the situation changes, but if you are a lone individual that just doesn’t want to be found, staying in the woods and dense terrain away from people who might rat you out is your best bet. Apply a thermal suit to the scenario and now your are fully mobile without fear of detection.

You will never see a drone coming, so having a suit is meaningless anyway?

Gotta love this kind of fuzzy logic. The claim apparently assumes that drones simply fly miles above the Earth silently raining hellfire missiles down on random heat signatures on the ground without identification. This is not how drones operate.

Drones are mainly used as OVERWATCH for teams of men already on the ground. A drone might see your signature when you are not wearing a suit, but a drone pilot will not waste ordinance on you until you are identified as a viable target. Most of the successful strikes you see in the news and on YouTube are targets that were already lazed by a team on the ground (this is something the DoD rarely mentions, because they want to retain the mystic surrounding drones). The drone is then sent in to attack the target that the team identified. When a military unit comes into contact with an enemy, a drone may be sent in to observe and identify targets. This is a situation where thermal evasion is essential. If those targets throw on thermal evasion gear, the drone becomes a useless platform. If you are under threat by drones and ground opponents, you can leave the area at will without being traced, or you can advance and attack your aggressor without being betrayed by your own heat signature. Your suit does not need to be worn at all times in order to be useful.

I don’t need a thermal evasion suit, I can just buy a thermal blanket or tarp at a fraction of the cost?

The first and most obvious advantage to a thermal evasion suit is that it CAN BE WORN. There is no existing tarp or thermal blanket system that can be worn against the human body and still hide that body from thermal imaging. All of these items conduct heat which can be seen almost as soon as you touch them. If a heat reflecting tarp was a practical working solution to thermal imaging, then you would see hundreds if not thousands of videos on the web proving their effectiveness and governments would not be keeping their own suits such a secret. The reality is, these items are only useful if you plan to stretch them out above you without physical contact, and stay in one place without moving. They are highly defensive in nature and severely limited in their application.

We have developed the very first thermal evasion system available to the public that can be worn for long periods of time and that also provides effective visual camouflage. Our suit works as a ghillie as well as a thermal evasion tool, meaning, it works in thermal, and in visible light. A thermal cloak offers near total 360 degree coverage against thermal imaging devices in the air and on the ground while the person is also mobile. Meaning, instead of constantly hiding from the enemy and being on the defensive (a losing strategy), you can advance on the enemy if you wish without detection. There is no comparison whatsoever in the level of application between a thermal blanket and a thermal suit.

This does not mean a suit solves all your problems. If you walk through an open field and start break-dancing, someone will see you. A thermal suit does not necessarily hide blatant movement by the wearer. You still need to follow proper field craft methods including the use of cover and concealment. Add to this the thermal reduction properties of the suit, and you are much less likely to be detected, even under heightened scrutiny.

I don’t need a thermal suit, I can just hide in the city amongst the crowds and blend in?

I’m sure there are situations when operating in a city might be called for, but frankly, the idea is extraordinarily ill conceived when one considers the surveillance grids being put in place in most major metropolitan areas. Thermal is not your worst enemy in the city. Try CCTV networks with facial and biometric recognition. Try numerous possible collaborators and quislings in a city environment (known for more passive and subservient populations permanently attached to the establishment umbilical cord) who might point the finger at you. The city is a BAD place to be under almost any circumstance that results in crisis and lost liberty, and probably the worst place to be if you are trying to avoid observation and surveillance.

That said, watch almost any police chopper thermal footage in a city and tell me the person being chased was better off without a thermal suit. Imagine you are being chased for simply being a proponent of liberty. Imagine that one day you wake up in the middle of your home city a designated criminal. Would you rather have a thermal evasion suit, or, do you plan to outrun the chopper?

Mud will hide your heat signature?

No, it will not. At least not for more than a minute, and it better be some thick friggin’ mud. Despite what Arnold Schwarzenegger may have taught you, heat transfers through mud just as it does through most other materials.

Drones will find you with LIDAR if they can’t see you with thermal vision?

LIDAR is a form of laser based radar which is bounced off surfaces to create a 3D map of a large area. I’m not sure exactly where the idea came from that drones use LIDAR for personnel detection, but this is simply not so, at least not currently. LIDAR is being tested by the DoD and private contractors for personnel detection using GROUND based 360 degree units, and the effective range of these experimental units is rather limited. Aerial LIDAR is used for mapping of terrain. The complexity of ground based objects (think in terms of millions of objects in any given field of view) makes personnel tracking from the air all but impossible. Ground based LIDAR also requires a recognizable human shape at close range in order to “alert” on an intruder, which means the ThermTac suit (which removes normal human shape) would only HELP in preventing detection. From my research as of 2015, LIDAR for surveillance often suffers from numerous false positives, which means it is a very weak system for tracking personnel. Thermal vision is a far greater threat than LIDAR.

Even if you have a suit that blocks your body heat, you can still be tracked by your footprints?

Under perfect conditions and the use of a sensitive thermal imager on the ground, your footprints MIGHT be visible using a ground based unit right after you imprint them, but it is still unlikely you will be found. Quick thermal imprints (caused by footsteps) disappear within seconds, and are difficult if not impossible to pick out from any distance beyond a few yards. Rubber and plastic soled shoes do not in most cases transfer very much heat into the ground, and the theory that crushed grass releases more heat in thermal imaging is utter nonsense. Too many ideas about thermal imaging are drawn from television and movies, which greatly embellish the capabilities of such devices. If footprints were an effective way to track people using thermal, then Search and Rescue units (many have access to excellent thermal devices) would have numerous examples of this along with numerous success stories (these examples do not exist).

One legitimate danger involving footprints occurs when a very large number of people (small groups are not an issue) travel together in single file. This constant imprinting on the same path by multiple footfalls can indeed leave a residual trail that can be found several minutes later, enough time to be tracked by a thermal imager.

Thermal evasion suits will help terrorists?

As stated in the video, the world’s worst terrorist groups are often trained by our own governments and covert intelligence agencies. If covert agencies have access to thermal evasion techniques, then it only follows that so do the people they train. I have no doubt that we will be accused of aiding terrorists by releasing this information, because that is really the only recourse the establishment has to try to stop the use and spread of thermal cloaks (or they will claim that the suit is a scam and doesn’t actually work. Of course, people will be able to test this for themselves). They will have to try to shame people into refusing to adopt thermal evasion as a means of defense. Trust me, I’ve seen this kind of propaganda used against people merely for talking about methods that MIGHT work. Read any military forum where someone discusses thermal evasion, and invariably a dozen henpecking statists will ask them if they are “with ISIS or Al-Qaeda” to shut them up.

Self-defense is an inborn right, not a privilege granted by arbitrary authority. You do not need permission to obtain means of defense against a threat, even if that threat has thermal imaging at his disposal and a license from the state to kill you. Our thermal suit design is a culmination of three years of tireless effort.  We believe the information belongs in the hands of the citizenry, not only in the hands of governments and those they train. The greater threat to the common good is a lack of knowledge that makes free people weak and vulnerable. The goal of this project is to remove a clear weakness in the American people. If you are not informed, and not prepared, then you will never be secure. Some people would have you believe that thermal imaging and drones are for your safety. We say YOU are the only person that can be trusted to provide for your own safety. If anything, thermal eyes and lurking drones present a more intense danger to you and your freedom than any terrorists they are supposedly intended to fight against.

For more information on thermal evasion, check out some of our essays at Snakebite Tactical.

If you would like to support the publishing of articles like the one you have just read, or support further projects like our ThermTac thermal suit project, visit our donations page here.  We greatly appreciate your patronage.

Brandon Smith is the founder of the Alternative Market Project, an organization designed to help you find like-minded activists and preppers in your local area so that you can network and construct communities for barter and mutual aid. Join today and learn what it means to step away from the unstable mainstream system and build something better. You can contact Brandon Smith at: [email protected].

Corporations Are Helping NASA Track Every Drone In The Sky

By: Graham Templeton | Extreme Tech

These days, drones are causing a lot of, if not problems, certainly headlines. They are popping up near secure areas, over flight paths, and outside the windows of pretty ladies. The obvious solution to the problem of ballooning use of drones is the same as the historical solution to the problem of ballooning use of airplanes: track and direct their movements. The problem is that drones are much smaller and quicker than planes, and fly too low and in areas that are too dense for radar. Now, NASA has recruited some of the biggest names in industry to help solve that problem with a source of data that’s already ubiquitous in large cities: cell phone coverage.

This latest report is based on documents released to The Guardian through a Freedom of Information request, and reveal deep industry ties to the project. Verizon’s near-ubiquitous cell network will be the sole host for early tests, though all carriers would be required to adopt any system the FAA did decide to endorse. Amazon and Google are also on board to help government develop their Unmanned aerial systems Traffic Management (UTM) system, which could make commercial drone services more likely while making unfettered personal use more difficult.

Verizon’s coverage map.

Verizon’s coverage map.

The system would not only track drones with cell towers, but use those towers to provide drones with data about their environment and the placement of other flyers. This would allow them to not only watch, but control the behavior of drones; NASA wants the system to be able to “geo-fence” areas like airports and political centers so drones simply cannot go there. They could decide which drones should take precedence in congested areas, or force drones to land during bad weather. Though it isn’t mentioned in the documents, this would likely also allow authorities to ground participating drones they believe to be involved in illegal activity.

That’s the pitch: Lose some freedom of action to effective regulation, and in return your drones won’t crash into buildings, people, or each other. Libertarian drone enthusiasts might not like the look of that deal, but that’s not true for companies like Google and Amazon, which have each invested heavily in Project Wing and PrimeAir, respectively. As Google has found with self-driving cars, regulatory barriers can undo the world’s best business plan. The FAA’s regulations for commercial drones are not yet finalized, but NASA does note that the UTM system will be designed specifically to allow a safe roll-out of Amazon’s service (along with that of “other operators”).

Air traffic control, visualized. Source: NASA.

Air traffic control, visualized. Source: NASA.

This scheme likely would not immediately stop some illegal drone uses, like flying drugs over international borders, since those drones would undoubtedly be stripped of whatever tracking hardware had come with them. This would essentially lobotomize the drone, relative to one with active tracking tech, and leave it without the awareness provided by the (inter)national cloud of drones. That might be fine if you only need to fly the drone straight across a featureless patch of desert, but less so in a city. To make sure the average user didn’t just detach the tracker whenever convenient, most drones would likely be sold with a hard dependency on a cell phone connection for navigation — but that’s just speculation at this point.

Some sort of centralized authority will be necessary to keep commercial drone services in the air, whether that centrality is facilitated by cell phone towers, WiFi routers, or anything else. Companies like Amazon aren’t helping drone control efforts out of the goodness of their heart. Once we have the ability to safely deploy large numbers of drones in dense urban areas, that’s when we’ll see the layoffs truly begin.

Why Elites Love Drones

By: Robert J. Burrowes

I sometimes read that drone strikes are counterproductive to western security interests because each person killed by a drone results in more new ‘terrorists’. See, for example, ‘The more civilians US drones kill in the Mideast, the more radicals they create’.

However, this analysis completely fails to understand what is driving elite military policy, carried out by the United States elite and key elite allies within NATO and elsewhere. In brief: drone strikes work precisely because they provoke violent responses which help elites to ‘justify’ their perpetual war to secure control of the world’s diminishing supplies of fossil fuels, water and strategic minerals while tightening control of domestic populations through expansion of the security and surveillance state.

Elites want more violence. They are unconcerned that innocent civilians are killed. In fact, they kill civilians deliberately. See, for example, ‘Israel “directly targeted” children in drone strikes on Gaza, says rights group’ and ‘41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground’.

Violence, particularly by demonised ‘others’ who often have to be seriously provoked into responding with violence, makes it easier to scare domestic populations into accepting restraints on their civil liberties, massive military expenditure at the cost of domestic social and environmental programs, military attacks against innocent ‘foreigners’ and massive profits for those few corporations and individuals who benefit from military spending.

Attacks by drones on innocent civilians, such as wedding parties in Afghanistan, serve the purpose of provoking retaliatory responses brilliantly. And by not mentioning the violence that provokes the retaliations while emphasising the retaliations themselves, elites and their agents are able to ‘justify’ western military policy for those not paying much attention or gullible enough to believe the warped perspective presented by compliant academics and the corporate media.

So do elites want to kill people just to make a profit? No. It’s not that simple. Elites want to kill people because they are insane. See ‘The Global Elite is Insane’.

If you think this is overstated, it is only because you have spent a lifetime unconsciously adjusting to absurd and dysfunctional behaviours that you could not explain: an outcome of suffering the ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’ violence that adults inflicted on you during your childhood. See ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.

Until we participate in comprehensive strategies to resist elite (and other) violence exclusively with strategically applied nonviolence, we will continue to be their ‘complementary doubles’, and thus victims, in the use of violence. Activists, scholars and others who do not realise this are simply playing into elite hands.

Of course, having the emotional and intellectual capacity to resist violence with strategically applied nonviolence is a big ‘ask’ of anyone. But while our fear gets in the way of us learning how to intelligently analyse and strategically resist the psychology that drives violence, we condemn ourselves to perpetual victimhood and assist elite efforts to victimise us even further.

While we play the game by elite rules and rely on violence to confront them, we ensure our own defeat: the military-nuclear-industrial complex is under their control and the smaller weapons we have at our disposal are only useful as tools for them to use to scare us into fighting each other or to justify their violent attacks, including by their police, on us.

If you are interested in devoting your emotional and intellectual capacities to a strategy that makes violence irrelevant in the medium term, you might consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ and participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’. And if you want to develop nonviolent strategies to resist elite military violence, see The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach.

We might fail. But I would prefer to implement a strategy that can work rather than repeat, for the umpteenth time, a strategy that history teaches us never works. And history does teach us that violence never works although elites work hard to convince us that, in this or that context, violence succeeded.

This is a delusion. Violence always sows the seeds for the next bout of violence (World War I led to World War II which led to …) and/or shifts the violence to the structural domain (where, for example, economic structures cause poverty) and/or the cultural domain (so that, for example, ‘ending’ slavery in the US gave way to institutionalised racism).

So I invite you to consider participating in a comprehensive strategy that is designed to undermine violence, in all of its manifestations, and to break the cycle that is driving us to extinction.

The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. once said: ‘The enemy is violence.’ But I believe the true enemy is our fear: the fear of nonviolently resisting violence, in all of its manifestations. Are you afraid?

Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is [email protected] and his website is at

Just Google It: Info On How To Hack A Military Drone Is Already Online

hack a drone

By: Sputnik News |

The information necessary to hack a military drone is freely available to the public, in academic publications and online documents, according to an Israeli defense manufacturer.

One such paper was published just a month before Iran claimed it downed a CIA stealth drone in 2011, Esti Peshin said Monday at the Defensive Cyberspace Operations and Intelligence conference in Washington DC. Peshin is the director of cyber programs for Israel Aerospace Industries.

A 2011 study, titled “The Requirements for Successful GPS Spoofing Attacks,” explains how to fool GPS sensors like those in drones by mimicking GPS signals.

There’s no way to know, Peshin said, if this report in fact directly informed the Iranians, but it does go to show how easily available this information is.

“It’s a PDF file… essentially, a blueprint for hackers,” Peshin said. “You can Google, just look up ‘Tippenhauer’ — it’s the first result in Google. Look up ‘UAV cyberattacks’ — it’s the third one. ‘UAV GPS spoofing attacks’ — the first one.”

The study explains how to feed the GPS system fake signals so the drone ends up “losing the ability to calculate its position.”  The study then goes on to describe ways to prevent these kinds of attacks as well.

The researchers said their goal was to point out “effective receiver-based countermeasures, which are not implemented yet in current standard GPS receivers.”

In the lag time between when the study was published, and when manufacturers managed to implement fixes, however, its possible that hackers could have used the study to exploit the vulnerabilities in a drone’s systems, Peshin said.

A 2013 assessment from NATO itself detailed the risk of drones being hacked and commandeered.

“At the end of the article, as if this was not enough, they listed several UAVs and said these are riskier than others by the way,” Peshin said.

Included in that short list are the MQ-9 Reaper and the RQ-170 Sentinel, the drone Iran claimed it commandeered and captured.

Iran Downs Drone, Reverse Engineers a Copy

Iran claimed that on December 4, 2011 it managed to bring down an RQ-170 Sentinel in its airspace. Though doubts circulated about Iran’s claims — most notable was the skepticism of then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta — the White House tacitly acknowledged as much when it later asked for the drone to be returned.

But Tehran said it wanted to reverse engineer the drone. In Feb. 2013, Iran released footage purportedly decoded from the drone’s systems.

In May 2014, Iran unveiled what it claimed was a successful copy of the Sentinel drone, and in November released a video purporting to show the drone’s first successful flight.

“We promised that a model of RQ-170 would fly in the second half of the year, and this has happened. A film of the flight will be released soon,” Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh told the IRNA state news agency at the time of the announcement.

Each subsequent announcement — including the veracity of the flight video — has been challenged by skeptics. But the NATO report, in its section on the Iran’s claims, admits, “Although the described attack is difficult to execute, it is not impossible.”

Even though the details of how Iran got the drone remain “controversial” and the report goes on to outline two possible explanations emphasizing that “[b]oth theories indicate security problems.”

Obama-Authorized Murder By Drones


Obama-authorized drone killings are cold-blooded murder by any standard – mostly affecting noncombatant civilians, innocent men, women and children in harm’s way.

Former Obama White House press secretary Jay Carney lied calling drone strikes “precise, lawful and effective.”

They’re indiscriminate and lawless. They accomplish no geopolitical objectives. They arouse great public anger in targeted countries.

Days earlier, a drone strike killed a US and Italian hostage. A disingenuous White House press secretary statement said:

“It is with tremendous sorrow that we recently concluded that a US government counterterrorism operation in January killed two innocent hostages held by Al-Qaeda since 2011.”

Obama’s dishonest apology to surviving family members rang hollow. He lied saying “(b)ased on the intelligence that we had obtained at the time…we believed that this was an Al Qaeda compound, that no civilians were present…”

“Before any strike is taken, there must be near- certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured – the highest standard we can set.”

Truth is polar opposite. More on this below.

The White House announced an investigation into the incident. Expect whitewash to follow.

Drone killings have nothing to do with counterterrorism. America’s so-called war on terror is phony.

It’s waged to advance Washington’s imperium – through endless direct and proxy wars, including cold-blooded murder by drones.

US development expert Dr. Warren Weinstein and Italian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto are two of thousands of US victims – murdered by American ruthlessness.

Drones are instruments of state terror. Claims about only targeting terrorists are Big Lies. So is saying using them makes America safer.

A 2012 Stanford/New York University study estimates only 2% of drone victims are so-called high-value targets. Evidence shows drone strikes facilitate anti-American recruitment.

The study said “US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury.”

“Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan (and other targeted countries), striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning.”

“Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities.”

“Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior.”

Targeted areas are struck multiple times in quick succession – a practice called “double tap.”

Family members, friends and bystanders arriving to help victims are themselves murdered or maimed by drone attacks.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates over 4,400 innocent civilians murdered by US drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen alone since 2004 – besides many more in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and other US war theaters.

Dozens of Western civilians have been killed, including at least 10 Americans.

Britain’s Reprieve human rights group estimates 28 noncombatants are killed to eliminate one so-called terrorist.

Reprieve’s Jennifer Gibson said “(d)rone strikes have been sold to the American public on the claim that they’re ‘precise.”

“But they are only as precise as the intelligence that feeds them. There is nothing precise about intelligence that results in the deaths of 28 unknown people, including women and children, for every (so-called real or invented) ‘bad guy’ the US goes after.”

John Kerry lied earlier claiming “(t)he only people we fire a drone at are confirmed terrorist targets at the highest level, after a great deal of vetting that takes a long period of time.”

“We don’t just fire a drone at somebody and think they’re a terrorist.”

It bears repeating. Drone strikes are indiscriminate, lawless, cold-blooded murder. The overwhelming number of victims are noncombatant civilian men, women and children.

They’re not so-called terrorists by any standard. Claiming otherwise is one of many Big Lies told to justify US ruthlessness.

In Yemen alone, US drone wars raged since 2002. Hundreds of Yemeni civilians perished. Obama killed many more noncombatants by drones than George Bush – with months left in his tenure to murder many more.

Reprieve’s Jennifer Gibson was blunt saying “Obama needs to be straight with the American people about the human cost of this program.”

“(H)is claims that this is a precise program look like nonsense, and the risk that it is in fact making us less safe looks all too real.”

RAND Corporation senior fellow Seth Jones says “no major terrorist organization in the world…has (ever) been defeated by drones.”

It bears repeating. They’re instruments of state terror. They’re used to commit cold-blooded murder – harming innocent civilians most.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]. His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”. Visit his blog site at