You’re driving home an empty road when you see a huge object across the sky. You decided to keep driving.
You’re driving home on an empty road when you see a huge object across the sky. You decided to keep driving. How did you know that this object was not a meteor?
A. The clouds in the sky looked like they were blowing in the opposite direction of where the object was heading.
B. It was in the direction of the sunrise.
C. It was the moon, but it was very far away.
D. It was a very bright, very large meteor.
You’re driving down a lonely road when you see a machine-looking object jet across the night sky. Upon closer inspection, you realize it’s a drone. But as you get closer, you realize it’s not a drone at all. It’s a drone-drone, or a drone-car. The device belongs to a police department.
The NYPD has been known to use drones for surveillance purposes, as have various law enforcement agencies. But on the afternoon of October 29, a drone-drone-car was in the news because it was being used to catch a drone-drone-drone.
The owner of the drone was apparently a vigilante who was operating under the self-described name of Captain Chaos, and had managed to snatch a drone out of the sky and crash it to the ground, where it was later recovered. The cops swooped in with a drone of their own, but by that point the vigilante had already retrieved the drone and dropped it in a bucket.
The department eventually tracked down the drone’s owner, who had been hiding under an alias. The police seized two drones, and the vigilante was charged with a disorderly conduct violation.
The NYPD is no stranger to controversy over its use of drones. Last year, the department purchased several unmanned aerial vehicles, but after seeing reports that they were being used to film the police (rather than to monitor crime), it decided to keep the drones in its fleet of helicopters. In April 2014, a civilian group filed a lawsuit against the NYPD for its use of drones.
The US Army also appears to have its own drone-car. In February, the Army announced that it would start testing a car that is completely automated and can drive itself, but it would be controlled remotely. The Army said that the vehicle was being developed to scout out road hazards and other potential threats to soldiers, but it could also be used to transport supplies to troops on the battlefield.
Air Force Capt. Michael “Doc” Del Negro, director of the Army’s Research and Development Command, described the vehicle as “a self-driving, electric, unmanned, flying machine.” Del Negro said it would be made by Fidelity Robotics, and could eventually be used by soldiers and Marines as they’re on a mission.
The car is designed to be piloted remotely, using a tablet and video game controller. It can drive at up to 25 mph and has two small wings and four rotors. Del Negro said that the Army has been testing the vehicle in simulations and on closed test tracks, but that it could be ready for deployment as early as 2017.