American Samizdat

Thursday, March 27, 2008. *

MIAMI (Reuters) - Miami police could soon be the first in the United States to use cutting-edge, spy-in-the-sky technology to beef up their fight against crime.

A small pilotless drone manufactured by Honeywell International, capable of hovering and "staring" using electro-optic or infrared sensors, is expected to make its debut soon in the skies over the Florida Everglades.

If use of the drone wins Federal Aviation Administration approval after tests, the Miami-Dade Police Department will start flying the 14-pound (6.3 kg) drone over urban areas with an eye toward full-fledged employment in crime fighting.

"Our intentions are to use it only in tactical situations as an extra set of eyes," said police department spokesman Juan Villalba.

"We intend to use this to benefit us in carrying out our mission," he added, saying the wingless Honeywell aircraft, which fits into a backpack and is capable of vertical takeoff and landing, seems ideally suited for use by SWAT teams in hostage situations or dealing with "barricaded subjects."

Miami-Dade police are not alone, however.

Taking their lead from the U.S. military, which has used drones in Iraq and Afghanistan for years, law enforcement agencies across the country have voiced a growing interest in using drones for domestic crime-fighting missions.

Known in the aerospace industry as UAVs, for unmanned aerial vehicles, drones have been under development for decades in the United States.

Also see, The Noose Tightens: Science, Surveillance and the Culture of Control

If you don't want to wait for the ultra-lite version of the UAV's, you can
still take a gander at the DCHDs (Domestic Control Hover Drones: note the
word domestic), which the U.S. government is already mass producing, and offering for sale to selected governments for $178,000 each (that's for the stripped-down model, the price the salespeople use to get buyers through the door: extras will easily bring the price up to $350,000, not including destination fees). They're shaped like a doughnut a little over three feet across, and weigh about forty-five pounds. They have a motor in the middle.

DCHDs are designed to hover about fifty feet up, but can go as high as five
hundred feet. They can stay airborne for three hours without running out of fuel, and they can travel at fifty miles per hour. They can be controlled
either by satellite or by vehicles on the ground. They come in your choice
of an elegant black matte for night use and a matte white and sky-blue for
those days you're feeling a bit more festive. They are, of course, nearly
silent, so quiet they cannot be heard from ten feet away.

Did we mention the word domestic in the title of the drone?
posted by Uncle $cam at 12:17 AM
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