Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Solar-Powered Drone Is Big Brother With Wings

Usually, adding solar panels to something only makes me like it more. IPhone? Awesome. Solar-Powered iPhone? Way better. See how that works?

Unfortunately, a company over in New Mexico seems determined to make me question that logic. Silent Falcon UAS Technologies recently unveiled a six-foot-long unmanned aircraft that can be launched by hand and conduct surveillance for up to 14 hours. It’s a solar-powered drone, and if this company has anything to do with it, it’s coming to the sky above you very soon.

According to a company release, the Silent Falcon is a solar-electric unmanned aerial system designed to use the power of the sun to stay in flight longer. The drone features a solar electric propulsion system, rugged composite structure, and three interchangeable wing configurations. It was designed to be carried by a single man and launched by hand. It’s able to beam back high-definition video to a command post and is silent from a distance of 100 feet.

With a a $250,000 to $300,000 price tag, it’s unlikely that your creepy neighbor will be using the Silent Falcon to spy on your dinner party anytime soon. Still, what’s truly disturbing is all the interest local governments are showing in this drone.

According to company CEO John Brown, their ideal customers are law enforcement at the city, state and federal level, as well as the U.S. Border Patrol. ‘An eye in the sky could be used to interdict drugs, ensure port security, check power lines and fuel pipelines, as well as size up needs in disaster relief, fight forest fires, and count wildlife,’ Brown told Forbes. Oh I’m so glad he put that benign-sounding stuff in there at the end. Otherwise it sounds like the Silent Falcon is just perfect for spying on private citizens.

So let me see if I’ve got this straight: living in the “freest” country in the world means withholding tax dollars from the solar and wind energy technologies that could actually set us free from foreign fuels, but if that same solar or wind energy is put to use for militant, right-violating purposes, it’s totally fine to put it on the taxpayers’ tab? Does that seem twisted to anyone else?

Source: http://www.care2.com/causes/solar-powered-drone-is-big-brother-with-wings.html

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