For the moment, commercial drones are, unequivocally, legal in American skies after a federal judge has ruled that the Federal Aviation Administration has not made any legally binding rules against it.
The judge dismissed the FAA’s case against Raphael Pirker, the first (and only) person the agency has tried to fine for flying a drone commercially. The agency has repeatedly claimed that flying a drone for commercial purposes is illegal and has said that there’s “no gray area” in the law. The latter now appears to be true, but it hasn’t gone the way the FAA would have hoped. Patrick Geraghty, a judge with the National Transportation Safety Board, ruled that there are no laws against flying a drone commercially.
The FAA attempted to fine the 29-year-old Pirker $10,000 after he used a drone to film a commercial at the University of Virginia. Pirker and his lawyer, Brendan Schulman, fought the case, saying that the FAA has never regulated model aircraft and that it’s entire basis for making them “illegal,” a 2007 policy notice, was not legally binding. The FAA has never undertaken the required public notice necessary to make an official regulation.
Geraghty agreed: The FAA “has not issued an enforceable Federal Acquisition Regulation regulatory rule governing model aircraft operation; has historically exempted model aircraft from the statutory FAR definitions of ‘aircraft’ by relegating model aircraft operations to voluntary compliance with the guidance expressed in [the 2007 policy notice], Respondent’s model aircraft operation was not subject to FAR regulation and enforcement.”
I presume the FAA will new pass new rules making explicit that they thought their 2007 policy notice implied.
The “Terminator” franchise proposes a future in which humans are fighting against Skynet, an Artificial Intelligence. At least that’s what the humans think they are fighting.
An alternative way to think about this future, is that there is no Artificial Intelligence. Instead, the elites have separated themselves from the proletariat and have begun a genocidal war against them using killer drones.
Which future is more likely? A menacing singularity or a group of resistance fighters being hunted down by drones from an unknown enemy? I imagine that it must feel a lot like the latter in Afghanistan. Polls show that 92% of Afghans have never heard of 9/11. They are presently fighting a war with no history, and no future.
"92% of Afghans have never heard of 9/11. They are presently fighting a war with no history, and no future."
The real action to date on driverless vehicles has been military (canonical ‘drones’), and commercial transport (like mining, and rail transportation, like the trains at airports). Next up: giant cargo ships.
In an age of aerial drones and driverless cars, Rolls-Royce (RR/) Holdings Plc is designing unmanned cargo ships.
Rolls-Royce’s Blue Ocean development team has set up a virtual-reality prototype at its office in Alesund, Norway, that simulates 360-degree views from a vessel’s bridge. Eventually, the London-based manufacturer of engines and turbines says, captains on dry land will use similar control centers to command hundreds of crewless ships.
Drone ships would be safer, cheaper and less polluting for the $375 billion shipping industry that carries 90 percent of world trade, Rolls-Royce says. They might be deployed in regions such as the Baltic Sea within a decade, while regulatory hurdles and industry and union skepticism about cost and safety will slow global adoption, said Oskar Levander, the company’s vice president of innovation in marine engineering and technology.
“Now the technology is at the level where we can make this happen, and society is moving in this direction,” Levander said by phone last month. “If we want marine to do this, now is the time to move.”
Crews will offer no safety advantage after ships evolve equipment for remote control, preventive maintenance and emergency back-ups, Levander said. Unmanned ships will need constant and comprehensive computer monitoring to anticipate failures in advance and “redundant” systems to kick in, similar to those on airplanes, he said.
The computers would also be constantly analyzing operations data to improve efficiency and save money, he said. Cameras and sensors can already detect obstacles in the water better than the human eye.
Human error causes most maritime accidents, often relating to fatigue, according to Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty AG. Total losses are declining, with 106 in 2012, 24 percent below the 10-year average, according to the most recent data from the unit of the Munich-based insurer.
Unmanned ships would also reduce risks such as piracy, since there would be no hostages to capture, Levander said. It would also eliminate liability for repatriating sailors when owners run out of money or abandon crews, which has stranded at least 2,379 people in the past decade.
Drone ships would become vulnerable to a different kind of hijacking: from computer hackers. While the technology may never be fully secure, it needs to be so difficult to break that it’s not worth the effort, according to Levander.
Unmanned ships would still require captains to operate them remotely and people to repair and unload them in port. These workers would have better quality of life compared with working at sea, Levander said.
The end of the merchant marine, and a great backdrop for fiction: stowing away on a South Pacific transport from Vietnam, a family of six tries sneak into the US.
“Dwell. Detect. Destroy.”
Drones are the defining gear of the postnormal, not your iPhone.
In a world of delicate, experimental nano-drones, the Black Hornet is the first operational system deployed. A hand-launched observation drone, it can resist gusting winds, fly for 25 minutes, and travel nearly a mile from its operator. The autopilot can follow GPS coordinates to conduct a preplanned patrol or simply hover and stare. All in a drone that weighs less than 0.6 ounces.
I imagine a scene from a movie where a guy walks into a crowded plaza, places his backpack on the ground. Unzips is and steps back while dozens of tiny drones emerge.
I want a phalanx of Black Hornets to follow me everywhere, buzzing the ‘Ride of the Valkyrie’ at all times.
'I love the smell of drones in the morning.'
"We—the dronesexual, the recently defined, though we only call ourselves this name to ourselves and only ever with the deepest irony—we’re never sure whether the humming is pleasure or whether it’s a form of transmission, but we also don’t really care…There are no dronesexual support groups. We don’t have conferences. There is no established discourse around who we are and what we do. No one writes about us but us, not yet."
Dronesexual — that’s a new usage.
Drones are the defining dark appliances of the postnormal. Not the tablets we hardly think about as we type, or the smart barnacles sticking to us and the walls of our homes. It’s the glitched video streams and the over-saturating images of rockets slamming into mud-sided buildings in the over-green darkness in the screens, the near-silent, near-insect whine of their roaming search. Will they find us? We know they can see us. We know we are known.
It’s not a sexual attraction for me, but I don’t kink for bondage, but I see how it could be a reaction to surveillance, some frisson of pleasure from being aggressively watched.
She goes on:
One of the things that we often see in dystopian fiction – at least, in dystopian fiction that deals with a god-like, usually fascist state – is the idea of sex-as-resistence. Sex is presented as something unregulated and unregulateable, at least when sex is the result of the personal desires of the protagonists. It’s not uncommon in older dystopian fiction to see sex made into a kind of state-mandated “mating” solely for the purpose of social control and reproduction, but that almost always exists to contrast with the kind of revolutionary sex engaged in by the heroes (or rather, the hero and the woman who just can’t keep her hands off him, because of course it’s always a man wearing the hero-pants).
But something you see less often is a story that deals directly with power – at least state power – and the eroticism of being known.
I’ve written about this before, the erotic aspects of the Gaze, the ways in which the predatory nature of being seen drifts into the territory of possessive sexuality. There’s an intimacy in being known, and – again, to reference Foucault on a basic level – we often assume that anyone who fucks us gets to know something about us, at least when the fucking is coupled with emotional intimacy and connection. Someone really knowing us is sort of supposed to make us want to have sex with them. When someone has sex with us, they know us. This is naturally a massive oversimplification, but these are powerful ideas that underpin not only how we tend to conceive of sexuality but what kinds of sexuality we tend to identify as desirable and appropriate.
Drones have become a symbol of contemporary surveillance, a thing that’s always there and always watching and always potentially capable of doing harm. Sometimes this harm is through direct violence, and sometimes it’s merely the delivery of data to people who can use it against you. But either way, there are two aspects to the erotic power of drones, and they’re interrelated: Being known, and being controlled.
Robin James wrote a fantastic response to my post linked above, wherein she discusses the idea of droning as a process of the regulation and control of people (emphasis hers):
So, where the gaze regulates people by fixing them as objects (as, for example, Frantz Fanon argues the exclamation “Look, a Negro!” does), droning regulates people by creating the conditions that lead them to exhibit the wrong (or right) sort of profile, the sort of profile that puts you on watch lists, that disqualifies you for “discounted” credit, health insurance plans, etc…The gaze and the drone are absolutely not opposed or mutually exclusive; more often than not, they’re deeply and complexly implicated in one another. That’s why super-panoptic surveillance is above or on top of regular old visual panopticism; it’s an additional layer, not a replacement.
What I think that characterization requires me to talk about here is the kind of power exchange that we find in BDSM and other forms of kink, which get their sexual power from the eroticism of surrender and dominance, laying yourself bare to someone else and putting your body under their control, for them to give pain or pleasure or merely orders that have to be obeyed. There are many, many kinds of kink, of course, and this is another oversimplification, but I think for a lot of people, this serves as much of the underpinning. Surrendering to someone else sexually is itself incredibly erotic, and even if one isn’t truly known or truly controlled, the pretense of it is powerful.
The act of surrendering to the drone might be an aphrodisiac, because we know they know us, and because to be known, deeply, is foreplay.
SkyJack - Hacking drones by Samy Kamkar
Nice one. The aerial robo-war above our heads has just begun. Respectively: Free amazon packages and drone [pizza, beer, kebab, burrito..] for the urban hacker youth in your neighborhood.
SkyJack is a drone engineered to autonomously seek out, hack, and wirelessly take over other drones within wifi distance, creating an army of zombie drones under your control.
Today Amazon announced they’re planning to use unmanned drones to deliver some packages to customers within five years. Cool! How fun would it be to take over drones, carrying Amazon packages…or take over any other drones, and make them my little zombie drones. Awesome.
Using a Parrot AR.Drone 2, a Raspberry Pi, a USB battery, an Alfa AWUS036H wireless transmitter, aircrack-ng, node-ar-drone, node.js, and my SkyJack software, I developed a drone that flies around, seeks the wireless signal of any other drone in the area, forcefully disconnects the wireless connection of the true owner of the target drone, then authenticates with the target drone pretending to be its owner, then feeds commands to it and all other possessed zombie drones at my will.
SkyJack also works when grounded as well, no drone is necessary on your end for it to work. You can simply run it from your own Linux machine/Raspberry Pi/laptop/etc and jack drones straight out of the sky.
// yeah, i know. this will not work on amazon’s drones. they will likely be autonomous using GPS. but hey, nice project.
As Jamais Cascio once said, when imaging new technologies. start with how it will be used for crime.
I scratched my head a little after watching the Amazon Prime Air video (see here), and considered the impact of delivery drones and autonomous vehicles on the future of work:
[…]the big question about drones and autonomous vehicles in general is about the impact on work. Right off the bat, the several million people (mostly men) employed as truck and delivery drivers will be out of a job. Yes, some of them might get work in the Amazon warehouses, but as soon as AI and robots are up to it, those jobs will be gone too.
This won’t be limited to megacorporations like Amazon, although Amazon might be planning to leverage this as an additional industry disruptor, like they’ve done with Amazon’s elastic computing technologies. Imagine a local florist, Bette, in downtown Beacon NY (my home) wanting to make a delivery to a local customer’s home. No longer reliant on Ralph, her former part-time driver, she simply logs into Amazon Prime Air, types in some details, and twenty minutes later a drone touches down in the loading zone outside her store, picks up the flowers for Mrs Johnson, and takes off for North Brett Street.
Of course, her flowers arrive by an autonomous truck three times weekly, and her Samsung Smart Pallet communicates with the truck, gathers her flowers, and brings them to her cold room, without the services of Sheila, her former part-time assistant.
But Ralph and Sheila are off starting microbusinesses, where autonomous vehicles make the economics work.
Read the rest.
Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is testing unmanned drones to deliver goods to customers, according to Chief Executive Jeff Bezos.
The drones, called Octocopters, could deliver packages weighing up to 2.3kg to customers within 30 minutes of them placing the order, he said.
However, he added that it could take up to five years for the service to start.
The US Federal Aviation Administration is yet to approve the use of unmanned drones for civilian purposes.
Drone pilots get post-traumatic stress disorder. So give them an Siri-like copilot to blame the killings on.