Stateside: Chris Smith
Drones are moving from military use to the hands of civilians, from home security to hunting. What could possibly go wrong with that?
Allow me to explain the subtle differences between the United States of America and ’Murica. If democracy, freedom of speech and an unrivalled innovative spirit embody the United States, Sarah Palin symbolises ’Murica. Baconnaise is ’Murica. A gun rack emblazoned with the words “We don’t dial 911”, such as the one I saw recently? ’Murica.
Amazon’s well-publicised plans to deliver small packages to homes within half an hour using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) sit proudly in the USA camp, with “Air Prime” visionary, pioneering and just a lil’ fanciful. Elsewhere it’s been met with, “Nope, can’t be done.” In the US, “Hey, why not?”
Mind you, ’Muricans are also getting pretty excited about the demilitarisation of drone tech, which is pencilled in for 2015. The possibilities in commerce, agriculture, search and rescue, photography, weather prediction and other scientific endeavours? Well, yadda yadda. These folks are gagging to use “demilitarised” drones to go ’Murica all over everyone’s ass.
Take our Taser-happy pals at Chaotic Moon Studios. They used the recent SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, to introduce the Chaotic Unmanned Personal Intercept Drone – CUPID for short. Sweet, but in this case CUPID’s arrow is a laser-guided dart that blasts any perceived threat with 80,000 volts of good old-fashioned electricity direct to the erogenous zones.
For better or worse, the Second Amendment to the US Constitution gives the right to bear arms. It’s clung to dearly in some parts but that passion can couple with paranoia when it comes to personal security, with the tragic results we saw harrowingly laid bare in the Trayvon Martin case.
Imagine card-carrying NRA folk having their own personal attack drone, joining the handgun holstered to their ankles 24/7. Doesn’t sound like a good time, does it?
Already, boneheaded hunters are taking their sport a little far, using drones to track potential kills. Some say it’s cruel, others that it’s cheating. Were guns and crossbows not enough of an advantage for you, Bubba?
In Louisiana, they’re doing a booming trade in drones equipped with heat-seeking cameras that help kill feral pigs who keep munching through crops – pest control isn’t hunting, so that’s perfectly okay, apparently.
But while bringing drones home from the world’s war zones should bring about some life-saving, eye-opening, overwhelmingly positive uses for Americans, prudence will be important. Because ’Murica will be keener to use them to protect itself, and that could lead to a lot of Tasered postmen and lawsuits. Well, at least collateral damage from our drones won’t be happening solely in Pakistan and Afghanistan anymore.