Behold! 3 Drones of the Near Future


Credit: Defence-Images-Foter-com-CC-BY-NC

Drones aren't going away any time soon. In fact, they're going to be more present than ever in our skies, seas, and on land. Some of us might even buy them for ourselves.

As Shane Harris previous wrote for Reason, not only is "the military is planning for a future that relies more on drones than it does on manned planes," but also "the market in domestic drones [is] poised for takeoff. A drone revolution is coming." Below are a few pieces of unmanned technology, some of which are already being implemented. (Others are still at the drawing board.)

1. Unmanned Aerial (and Aquatic and Terrestrial) Vehicles

Sandia National Laboratories are developing and testing "multi-modal vehicles" that can fly, swim, drive, and jump. All of these features are operated through a single interface. Concept videos show the vehicle's ability to drop exterior layers, such as its wings when it hits the water and its paddles when it drives onto land. Sandia anticipates that the Volant will provide quick, flexible assistance to manned operations without requiring a whole army of robots outfitted exclusively for certain situations.

The Volant's design is not without drawbacks, though. Wired explains that "because it sheds parts and material as it transforms from one mode to another, recovery is almost impossible — making every mission an expensive one-way trip."

2. The Rail-Launched Stealth Bat

The Bat is a drone with a blended wing body that makes it stealthier than conventional designs. It also relies on a mobile hydraulic-rail launcher for take off and a large net for recovery.Unlike larger, more cumbersome combat drones, the Bat does not require a runway. Being freed from the tarmac allows this drone to take off in rougher environments.

The Bat may be small, but it is fierce. Current models comes in 10 to 12-foot wingspan, can fly 70 mph, and can carry a 3.2 cubic foot payload. Until recently, this drone was resigned to "intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition and communications," according to Northrop Grumman, producer of the Bat. But, it was recently outfitted with a "miniature electronic attack payload" that makes it capable of engaging in combat.

3. Drones for Personal Use

Frog, a product strategy and design firm, is working on ways to integrate unmanned aerial vehicles into daily activities and transform them into "off-body wearables." These small drones would be privately owned tools more akin to a flying roomba than a war machine.

The Guardian Angel concept drone would fly along with its owner on jogs. Guided by a signal from a heart-rate monitor, this drone "helps you adjust your performance by providing instant feedback," according to the design team. Other designs include the "Paparazzi" drone that would film its owner for social media purposes. Or at least that's the idea. The company doesn't anticipate completing these devices until 2020. 

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  1. Thank you, Reason for -- at last! -- publishing a positive article on drones. UAVs are the future, and they are a very bright one. Being able to spend less money to do more things at the cost of less lives and man-hours is a very, very good thing, and is often obscured by the "drone-murder" coverage that this website engages in. UAVs are an excellent tool, and as with guns and any other technological innovation libertarians should focus on the intent of the user rather than indulging irrational fears about drone usage, private or public.

    1. It's true. Right now drones are only used for aerial surveillance and bombing/missile attacks. But in the near future they could be used for such diverse and beneficial purposes as warrantless low-altitude/hover surveillance and recon, roving wi-fi tapping, delivering non-lethal and riot control ordinance into large or enclosed areas, and remote destruction of drug production facilities (or at least facilities that look like they're producing drugs).

      Why someday the cops will be able to shoot dogs on private property from miles away, thus assuring officer safety.

      The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades!

      1. If you want to be a Luddite, that's on you *shrugs*

        Personally, I don't think it was that much better when we were using A-10s or paying Pakistani soldiers to have borderlands villagers by the 10s of thousands -- which would indicate that it is the use of the tool, and not the tool itself, which is to blame.

        People have certainly blamed advancements for the destructive power that others have chosen to bring upon the world, and accordingly held such advances at arm's length (nuclear power is an obvious example). Libertarians, at least in my way of thinking, have never been about such broad rejection of technological progress.

        1. Also, what is wrong with aerial surveillance? In the context of a general operation, is one of the best ways to save lives and prevent foolish, life-wasting missions from being carried out.

          I will agree with you regarding our disgusting callousness when it comes to bombing targets, but improved aerial mapping/surveillance is one of the best things about drones.

          1. Touting the life-saving benefits of some new battlefield technology is you missing the point by a few lightyears.

            And I'm sure the amazing resolution and detail of modern surveillance technology is of great comfort to the people its used to spy on.

            1. What distinguishes a "battlefield technology" from general technology? I'm pretty sure that whatever valid distinction there is between the two, guns will be included under "battlefield technology". Yet, it is foolishness to discount the peaceful -- or hell, the defensive -- applications of the modern firearm. I don't have to refer to the AK-47 as a "murder gun" argue against Communist uprisings or violent uses of assault weapons; I don't have to call UAVs "murder drones" or imply that UAVs are to be feared to make an argument against this administration's disgusting policy wrt targeted assassinations.

              The "lifesaving benefits" of a technology, battlefield or otherwise, *is* the point -- the point which you (and many of the Reason editorialists) have failed to grasp when it comes to UAVs.

            2. Dude stop.

              It's not the technology, it's how it's used.

              Should we ban the technology or place limits on how we allow the government to use it?

              1. Banning technologies is as impossible as limiting government. I'm just saying the future is gonna be shitty and exciting advances in oppression technology are going to be part of that.

                If you want a vision of the future, imagine a remotely-controlled boot stamping on a human face forever.

                1. Oh it's emo-tarian sad-sack special from HA. Why don't you go be sad somewhere else?

                  1. Your arguments are so compelling. It's like you're an unmanned argument-winning vehicle.

                    1. Luddism isn't different when you or any other libertarian tires it. It's still bullshit. We've heard it before and it was bullshit then.

      2. Hugh brings the derp early.

        Cause it's not like all of that stuff wasn't already possible.

      3. The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades!

        What ev.

        This technology is going to be bigger than the internet.

        This will usher in a breakthrough in robotics. Pilotless aircraft, driverless cars, robots that mow my lawn and clean my house...

        This shit is exciting!

  2. I, for one, welcome the coming of our drone overlords.

  3. The Guardian Angel concept drone would fly along with its owner on jogs.

    I eagerly await the armed Guardian Angel.

    1. I want the Curtis Sliwa model, with the jaunty beret.

  4. As Shane Harris previous wrote for Reason, not only is "the military is planning for a future that relies more on drones than it does on manned planes," but also "the market in domestic drones [is] poised for takeoff. A drone revolution is coming." Below are a few pieces of unmanned technology, some of which are already being implemented. (Others are still at the drawing board.)

    I cut and pasted this from the post. How many writing errors can you find? I found three.

  5. I'll be in my bunk.

  6. You can buy a decent size quad copter on Amazon for less than 500 bucks. It has a Go-Pro mount for HD video. The thing flies itself, you just tell it where to go using a smartphone app.

    So for 700 bucks you can be the neighborhood despot, watching your citizens from your smart phone in HD video.

    1. Can it carry cargo? How long can it fly (with cargo)?

      1. Not really sure, I just saw one for sale, I didn't buy it.

    2. "Neighborhood despot"? Really?

      Exactly where do you live that you expect what you do in your back yard to remain 100% private?

      Creepy maybe, but if it happened out of doors in plain view, recording it is almost never NAP-violating.

      1. If its over my property happily snapping pictures you shouldn't expect that drone to return in one piece either...

        1. How is it any different from Google taking pictures from their vehicles for Google maps? Because it's in the sky?

          The government shouldn't be doing such things, but I see nothing wrong with private individuals and corps using UAVs for a similar purpose provided that privacy concerns are dealt with.

          1. For all values of "dealt with," mostly involving legal rulings that large institutions can do as they please, while the people who can't afford the legal fees to challenge them can stfu.

            1. It's a wonder we haven't all been turned to Soylent Green, whatwith the KKKorporations having untrammeled control over death-dealing "murder drones" and "battlefield technology".

              I get what you're driving at, but seriously this is way over-the-top hyperbole which can be (and is) applied to just about any new technological development under the sun.

              1. There's a certain section of the HandR commentariat that enjoys its misery and thinks the sad-sackery makes them wise. It doesn't and it's tiresome.

          2. That's a fair point. But why exclude the government? They are just another paying customer who wants access to the data right? I don't know. I suppose this level of surveillance has become the new normal, the only answer it seems are counter measures.

            1. But why exclude the government? They are just another paying customer who wants access to the data right?


              Government has guns and the ability to put take your life.

              Government is granted powers. It doesn't have rights. It should have substantially fewer powers than we have rights.

      2. I live in Capo-ville, protected by a fleet of cheap drones of course.

    3. Zimmerman shoulda had one of those.

  7. The downside: civilian UAVs will be and already is heavily regulated just through FAA regulation alone. Most of the development now is for government use.

    The personal UAV industry won't advance much and I suspect most will be relegated to backyard tinkering, perhaps 3D printing and some black market business (modified weaponized 4 rotor drones previously sold on Silk Road)

    1. Add to that FCC regulation for long range UAV communications

    2. The personal UAV industry won't advance much

      It already has.

      1. Civilian use hasn't changed much at all at a fundamental level since RC planes and helicopters. Only some axillary tech like miniaturized high quality cameras/sensors/electronics.

        A real advancement for civilian use would be something like a small personal delivery aircraft that can fly across the state or states, taking remote power from microwave beam stations.

  8. finding lost hikers
    Monitoring livestock or wildlife
    Observing or watching for fires
    Locating beetle infestations in timber
    Filming sports events
    Delivery vehicles

    I can think of lots of peaceful uses for these critters
    God I hate typing on an iphone

    1. I am looking forward to ordering my groceries or takeout food online and having it arrive via flying drone

    2. Changing the lightbulb in the room with the 16' ceilings!

  9. "She was accompanied, on these walks, by an armed remote, a tiny Dornier helicopter that rose from its unseen rooftop next when she stepped down from the deck. It could hover almost silently, and was programmed to avoid her line of sight. There was something wistful about the way it followed her, as though it we5re an expensive but unappreciated Christmas gift."

    - Mona Lisa Overdrive, William Gibson 1988

    1. See, this is what I'm thinking as I read this: personal self-defense drone to protect me. From other drones, if necessary.

  10. No Hat Tip???


    I am disappoint.

    Entropy Void|11.18.13 @ 9:09AM|#|?|filternamelinkcustom

    Git yer lazer pointers ready ...


    here's where the drones will be ...

    You're welcome.
    reply to this

    Entropy Void|11.18.13 @ 10:47AM|#|?|filternamelinkcustom

    More Dronz Info ...

    reply to this

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