Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Radio Controlled Aircraft for Intel and Security

Radio controlled toys have been around a long time. Lately RC helicopters have been in the news. A Washingtonian was playing with his RC Copter (drone) late at night and lost control of it. This drone ended up on the White House lawn. It was found that the owner of the drone mistakenly lost control of it and it caused controversy because of where it ended up.
I believe these drones if you will, could be used in a variety of intel gathering roles. During a disaster a drone could be employed to assess damage, get eyes on in areas that may not be accessible, or even search for people. Could they be used for “spying” on what is the enemy in a without rule of law situation? Yes they could. The quad copters these days are pretty quiet but do make some noise.
There are some cons to all of this The biggest one being that if they are out of line of sight then you can lose the drone (Think recent White House event). Another is that if you set it to return to coordinates and anything gets in the way, it may not make it back. If you crash it into a tree, or onto a roof in an orientation that you cannot take off again from then you have to find another way to retrieve it. Then of course there is the potential cost of a catastrophic crash where you cannot repair the drone, or if someone thinks your drone is an NSA spy-bot and shoots it down. Lastly if you are using a radio frequency to communicate with your drone, it is not directional and you could be located by triangulation of the radio frequency, but that would require someone who knows how to, and is dedicated to finding you.
So, what is the initial investment for something like these? The initial cost can be whatever you want it to be honestly. Our first ‘trainer’ was $20.00 on black Friday shopping and about $30.00 to $40.00 normally. A better one is just over $60.00 on Amazon. There are some up to $850.00. There are high end purpose built drones available for upwards of $10,000.00, but that is really for a professional photographer in my opinion or someone spending our tax dollars. That being said, I see that Ranchers are using them to look over their herds, farmers are using them to look over their crops, and as you may have heard places like Amazon would like to use them to make deliveries. The options really are limitless since you can program waypoints or a predetermined route into the radio and have it almost be an automated flight path.
Imagine being in a situation where you need an Observation Post / Lookout Post (OP/LP). You could further enhance this valuable asset by the use of a drone. The one caveat I would offer is that if you are concerned about predators of the two legged variety, then you may want to set your departure / return to site to not be right next to the drone pilot. I would also recommend the use of a spotter to keep the pilot safe while his attention is elsewhere.
All of that being said I find the benefits of a drone easily outweigh the cost of one, if done within a budget plan, following federal and local laws and regulations, and use your creativity.
Know that there are things called geofences. This an area where a radio signal is controlled so that something like the White House will not happen. Airports, military installations, and other secure areas would not want someone in a drone checking out their secure area. A geofence would prevent this. I’m not sure what it takes to put up a geofence because that would be handy for your home, property, or retreat.
A drone with camera capabilities would definitely be an asset to your intelligence gathering or defense. I’m sure there would be a way to weaponized these little things. I don’t think I would recommend that even for the experienced operator. It would be horrible to accidently hit a shoot button when it wasn’t intended. I suppose in a without rule of law situation a flying weapon would be desirable, but it would be a whole different animal.
In this world of technology a drone could be a force multiplier. Like any other tool it takes some training, skill, and experience to use it well. So buy $20.00 quad and have fun! Say to your wife, “But honey, I’m training!”

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