Posts tagged drones

Drone Footage: Washington State Wildfire Aftermath

The footage above is from the Carlton Complex Fire in north-central Washington that as of yesterday had burned down 200 homes and was only 16% contained. The wildfires are the largest in state history.

Drones

By Matt Bors, via @KenRoth. Select to embiggen.

Visualizing Our Drone Future

Via Alex Cornell:

Our Drone Future explores the technology, capability, and purpose of drones, as their presence becomes an increasingly pervasive reality in the skies of tomorrow.

In the near future, cities use semi-autonomous drones for urban security. Human officers monitor drone feeds remotely, and data reports are displayed with a detailed HUD and communicated via a simulated human voice (designed to mitigate discomfort with sentient drone technology). While the drones operate independently, they are “guided” by the human monitors, who can suggest alternate mission plans and ask questions.

Specializing in predictive analysis, the security drones can retask themselves to investigate potential threats. As shown in this video, an urban security drone surveys San Francisco’s landmarks and encounters fierce civilian resistance.

Run Time: ~3:00.

FAA Demands Request to Fly from Drone Journalism Lab

via College Media Matters:

Since taking flight in November 2011, the [the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Drone Journalism Lab] has been dutifully operating under a fairly draconian set of drone restrictions imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Among them: no hovering above 400 feet and no reporting over populated areas.

More recently, in a letter to the lab, the FAA has laid out another hurdle: a formal request that must be submitted to the FAA any time the lab wants to employ a drone outdoors for storytelling purposes. The bad news, from a reporting perspective: The government agency may not respond to the request for more than two months.

Founded by UNL journalism professor Matt Waite, the lab conducts research on the ethical, legal, and regulatory issues of using UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) for reporting. The lab’s students have flown UAVs to report on local news, including Nebraska’s 2012 drought that dried up the Platte River.  Waite told the Lincoln Journal Star that he sees the two-month wait period as a learning curve:

“We’re going to have to get really familiar with aviation regulations and how they work, how they’re applied,” he said. “This is our first best opportunity to do that…We have a unique position to be able to explore this for the industry before the industry is going to be able to do it themselves.”

Video: YouTube, Drone journalism from the ground. In the clip, the Drone Journalism Lab’s UAV flies over the Platte River to report on Nebraska’s drought conditions. (Run time - 1:09)

Visualizing Drone Strikes in Pakistan
Out of Site, Out of Mind visualizes every known drone strike in Pakistan since 2004. To date, there have been 3,105 casualties.
Of those casualties, 175 were children, 535 civilian, 2,348 “other” (status unknown) and 47 high profile. 
The visualization is interactive and lets you mouse over for additional details about each strike. Lower on the page and not shown here is the latest news from establishment and alternative media about drones, policy and their effects.
Image: Out of Site, Out of Mind by Pitch Interactive.

Visualizing Drone Strikes in Pakistan

Out of Site, Out of Mind visualizes every known drone strike in Pakistan since 2004. To date, there have been 3,105 casualties.

Of those casualties, 175 were children, 535 civilian, 2,348 “other” (status unknown) and 47 high profile. 

The visualization is interactive and lets you mouse over for additional details about each strike. Lower on the page and not shown here is the latest news from establishment and alternative media about drones, policy and their effects.

Image: Out of Site, Out of Mind by Pitch Interactive.

President Barack Obama, who vastly expanded U.S. drone strikes against terrorism suspects overseas under the cloak of secrecy, is now openly seeking to influence global guidelines for their use as China and other countries pursue their own drone programs

Via Reuters:

"People say what’s going to happen when the Chinese and the Russians get this technology? The president is well aware of those concerns and wants to set the standard for the international community on these tools,” said Tommy Vietor, until earlier this month a White House spokesman.

FJP: Standards.

The Future’s Getting Freaky
Via The BBC:

It’s been 30 years since the first message was sent over initial nodes of the Arpanet, the Pentagon-sponsored precursor to the internet. But this month, researchers announced something that could be equally historic: the passing of messages between two rat brains, the first step toward what they call the “brain net”.
Connecting the brains of two rats through implanted electrodes, scientists at Duke University demonstrated that in response to a visual cue, the trained response of one rat, called an encoder, could be mimicked without a visual cue in a second rat, called the decoder. In other words, the brain of one rat had communicated to the other.
"These experiments demonstrated the ability to establish a sophisticated, direct communication linkage between rat brains, and that the decoder brain is working as a pattern-recognition device,” said Miguel Nicolelis, a professor at Duke University School of Medicine. “So basically, we are creating an organic computer that solves a puzzle."
Whether or not the Duke University experiments turn out to be historic (some skepticism has already been raised), the work reflects a growing Pentagon interest in neuroscience for applications that range from such far-off ideas as teleoperation of military devices (think mind-controlled drones), to more near-term and less controversial technology, like prosthetics controlled by the human brain. In fact, like the Arpanet, the experiment on the rat “brain net” was sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa).

BBC, Ten extraordinary Pentagon mind experiments.
For the rats, see, One rat brain ‘talks’ to another using electronic link.
Image: Turning insects into drones with implanted systems, by Darpa, via The BBC.

The Future’s Getting Freaky

Via The BBC:

It’s been 30 years since the first message was sent over initial nodes of the Arpanet, the Pentagon-sponsored precursor to the internet. But this month, researchers announced something that could be equally historic: the passing of messages between two rat brains, the first step toward what they call the “brain net”.

Connecting the brains of two rats through implanted electrodes, scientists at Duke University demonstrated that in response to a visual cue, the trained response of one rat, called an encoder, could be mimicked without a visual cue in a second rat, called the decoder. In other words, the brain of one rat had communicated to the other.

"These experiments demonstrated the ability to establish a sophisticated, direct communication linkage between rat brains, and that the decoder brain is working as a pattern-recognition device,” said Miguel Nicolelis, a professor at Duke University School of Medicine. “So basically, we are creating an organic computer that solves a puzzle."

Whether or not the Duke University experiments turn out to be historic (some skepticism has already been raised), the work reflects a growing Pentagon interest in neuroscience for applications that range from such far-off ideas as teleoperation of military devices (think mind-controlled drones), to more near-term and less controversial technology, like prosthetics controlled by the human brain. In fact, like the Arpanet, the experiment on the rat “brain net” was sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa).

BBC, Ten extraordinary Pentagon mind experiments.

For the rats, see, One rat brain ‘talks’ to another using electronic link.

Image: Turning insects into drones with implanted systems, by Darpa, via The BBC.

The Mini Drone
Via Wired:

British troops in Afghanistan are flying a drone that’s shrunk down to its essentials: a micro-machine that spies, built for a solitary user.
This is the Black Hornet. Its Norwegian manufacturer, Prox Dynamics, bills it as the world’s smallest military-grade spy drone, with a weight of 16 grams and a length of 4 inches. Propelled by two helicopter blades, the Black Hornet carries little more than a steerable camera that records still and video imagery. (That is: It’s unarmed.) Now British soldiers have brought it to Afghanistan, as it fits in the palms of their hands. It’s supposed to be a drone for an Army of One.
“We use it to look for insurgent firing points and check out exposed areas of the ground before crossing, which is a real asset,” Sgt. Christopher Petherbridge of the Brigade Reconnaissance Force told the British Ministry of Defence for a Monday announcement.

Image: British Army Sgt. Scott Weaver launches a Black Hornet drone from a compound in Afghanistan. Photo: UK Ministry of Defence, via Wired.

The Mini Drone

Via Wired:

British troops in Afghanistan are flying a drone that’s shrunk down to its essentials: a micro-machine that spies, built for a solitary user.

This is the Black Hornet. Its Norwegian manufacturer, Prox Dynamics, bills it as the world’s smallest military-grade spy drone, with a weight of 16 grams and a length of 4 inches. Propelled by two helicopter blades, the Black Hornet carries little more than a steerable camera that records still and video imagery. (That is: It’s unarmed.) Now British soldiers have brought it to Afghanistan, as it fits in the palms of their hands. It’s supposed to be a drone for an Army of One.

“We use it to look for insurgent firing points and check out exposed areas of the ground before crossing, which is a real asset,” Sgt. Christopher Petherbridge of the Brigade Reconnaissance Force told the British Ministry of Defence for a Monday announcement.

Image: British Army Sgt. Scott Weaver launches a Black Hornet drone from a compound in Afghanistan. Photo: UK Ministry of Defence, via Wired.

Wait, Tolerate or Terminate?
The Atlantic with an important explainer to kick off the new year:


Over the past two years, the Obama administration has begun to formalize a so-called “disposition matrix” for suspected terrorists abroad: a continuously evolving database that spells out the intelligence on targets and various strategies, including contingencies, for handling them. Although the government has not spelled out the steps involved in deciding how to treat various terrorists, a look at U.S. actions in the past makes evident a rough decision tree.
Understanding these procedures is particularly important for one of the most vexing, and potentially most dangerous, categories of terrorists: U.S. citizens. Over the years, U.S. authorities have responded with astonishing variety to American nationals suspected of terrorism, from ignoring their activities to conducting lethal drone strikes. All U.S. terrorists are not created equal. And the U.S. response depends heavily on the role of allies, the degree of threat the suspect poses, and the imminence of that threat — along with other factors.
What follows is a flow chart… that takes us through the criteria and decision points that can lead to a suspect terrorist’s being ignored as a minor nuisance, being prosecuted in federal court, being held in a Pakistani prison, or being met with the business end of a Hellfire missile.


Image: Screenshot, How Obama Decides Your Fate If He Thinks You’re a Terrorist via The Atlantic. Select to embiggen… But visit to explore.

Wait, Tolerate or Terminate?

The Atlantic with an important explainer to kick off the new year:

Over the past two years, the Obama administration has begun to formalize a so-called “disposition matrix” for suspected terrorists abroad: a continuously evolving database that spells out the intelligence on targets and various strategies, including contingencies, for handling them. Although the government has not spelled out the steps involved in deciding how to treat various terrorists, a look at U.S. actions in the past makes evident a rough decision tree.

Understanding these procedures is particularly important for one of the most vexing, and potentially most dangerous, categories of terrorists: U.S. citizens. Over the years, U.S. authorities have responded with astonishing variety to American nationals suspected of terrorism, from ignoring their activities to conducting lethal drone strikes. All U.S. terrorists are not created equal. And the U.S. response depends heavily on the role of allies, the degree of threat the suspect poses, and the imminence of that threat — along with other factors.

What follows is a flow chart… that takes us through the criteria and decision points that can lead to a suspect terrorist’s being ignored as a minor nuisance, being prosecuted in federal court, being held in a Pakistani prison, or being met with the business end of a Hellfire missile.

Image: Screenshot, How Obama Decides Your Fate If He Thinks You’re a Terrorist via The Atlantic. Select to embiggen… But visit to explore.

TMZ is NOT getting in the DRONE business … we don’t have a drone … we don’t want a drone … we never applied for a drone … despite a bogus report to the contrary.

TMZ is not getting a drone, the gossip site says (the all cap ellipses fetish is theirs).

The news: Last week in an article about the politics of domestic drones, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that TMZ had a applied for a drone permit. TMZ says, not true. 

But, as Slate points out, it’s not farfetched either:

[T]he idea of a news website (gossip-related or otherwise) launching a drone likely won’t sound so crazy. KBIA, an NPR affiliate in Missouri, is currently using a $25,000 grant to lay the groundwork for its own news-gathering drone program, and researchers at the University of Nebraska have likewise been given a $50,000 grant to set up a Drone Journalism Lab, according to the Associated Press. Some people won’t like it, but it’s hard to believe that drones won’t find a role in the journalism of tomorrow.

Interested in ideas behind drone journalism? Ideas from U Nebraska’s Drone Journalism Lab can be found on Tumblr.

Bonus: here’s how a drone is used by a Polish activist to monitor activity between police and protestors in Warsaw.

Dronestagram: The Drone’s Eye View
At the FJP, we’re always fascinated by projects that colonize the new booming platforms and go totally native; adapting the story to survive in a new environment. 
Dronestagram posts a satellite view to Instagram showing the location of drone strikes before the attack. By focusing on getting the drone story working well on Instagram, the story automatically gets to mobiles, Facebook, twitter and tumblr easily and elegantly.
The inventor and publisher, James Bridle, writes he’s “making these locations just a little bit more visible, a little closer. A little more real.”
James Bridle’s CV extends way beyond journalism; as well as his column for the UK-based Observer newspaper, he’s presented at TED and SXSW, and his Iraq War Historiography, a twelve volume encyclopedia of changes to politically contentious wikipedia pages about the second gulf war, has been exhibited in galleries in the US, Europe and Asia.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism provides Bridle with details of the strikes across Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. He then researches across “original media reports, wikipedia, local government and media sites” to get the best location and satellite view.
This isn’t the first time creative technologists have tried to tell the drone story in creative ways on digital platforms; back in August we posted about Apple rejecting an iPhone application that showed an alert each time a drone strike was reported. But this one has actually reached the public, and is already growing its audience.
There’s more on the project The Verge, and you can follow Dronestagram on twitter, tumblr or Instagram, of course.

Dronestagram: The Drone’s Eye View

At the FJP, we’re always fascinated by projects that colonize the new booming platforms and go totally native; adapting the story to survive in a new environment. 

Dronestagram posts a satellite view to Instagram showing the location of drone strikes before the attack. By focusing on getting the drone story working well on Instagram, the story automatically gets to mobiles, Facebook, twitter and tumblr easily and elegantly.

The inventor and publisher, James Bridle, writes he’s “making these locations just a little bit more visible, a little closer. A little more real.”

James Bridle’s CV extends way beyond journalism; as well as his column for the UK-based Observer newspaper, he’s presented at TED and SXSW, and his Iraq War Historiography, a twelve volume encyclopedia of changes to politically contentious wikipedia pages about the second gulf war, has been exhibited in galleries in the US, Europe and Asia.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism provides Bridle with details of the strikes across Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. He then researches across “original media reports, wikipedia, local government and media sites” to get the best location and satellite view.

This isn’t the first time creative technologists have tried to tell the drone story in creative ways on digital platforms; back in August we posted about Apple rejecting an iPhone application that showed an alert each time a drone strike was reported. But this one has actually reached the public, and is already growing its audience.

There’s more on the project The Verge, and you can follow Dronestagram on twitter, tumblr or Instagram, of course.

Apple Rejects App That Tracks U.S. Drone Strikes

It seemed like a simple enough idea for an iPhone app: Send users a pop-up notice whenever a flying robots kills someone in one of America’s many undeclared wars. But Apple keeps blocking the Drones+ program from its App Store — and therefore, from iPhones everywhere. The Cupertino company says the content is “objectionable and crude,” according to Apple’s latest rejection letter.

It’s the third time in a month that Apple has turned Drones+ away, says Josh Begley, the program’s New York-based developer. The company’s reasons for keeping the program out of the App Store keep shifting. First, Apple called the bare-bones application that aggregates news of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia “not useful.” Then there was an issue with hiding a corporate logo. And now, there’s this crude content problem.

Begley is confused. Drones+ doesn’t present grisly images of corpses left in the aftermath of the strikes. It just tells users when a strike has occurred, going off a publicly available database of strikes compiled by the U.K.’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which compiles media accounts of the strikes.

FJP: A short demonstration of how the app works (both text alerts and a map-based visualization) can be seen on Vimeo.

In a recent article at the Columbia Journalism Review, Dan Gillmor reminds us how news organizations’ reliance on technology companies is increasingly problematic. For example, and sticking with Apple:

Governments and businesses are creating choke points inside that emerging ecosystem—points of control where interests unfriendly to journalism can create not just speed bumps on the fabled information highway, but outright barricades…

…Consider Apple. The news industry’s longstanding love affair with what has become the most valuable company on Earth expanded with the death of Steve Jobs. But Apple has a long history of controlling behavior. If you create a journalism app to be sold in the iPhone or iPad marketplace, you explicitly give Apple the right to decide whether your journalism content is acceptable under the company’s vague guidelines. Apple has used this to block material it considers improper, including (until the company came under fire for this) refusing for a time to allow Mark Fiore, who has won a Pulitzer Prize for his cartoons, to sell his own app. Given the dominance Apple now enjoys in the tablet market, journalists should have a Plan B. Apple’s paranoia (not too strong a word) and secretive ways have led it to attack journalism itself. In 2004 the company tried to force several websites to disclose their sources in their Apple coverage; the case was a direct challenge to fundamental business-journalism practices. (Note: I played a small role in that case, filing declarations on behalf of the websites that they were engaged in protected journalism.)

Read through to Gillmor’s article for more about how telecommunications providers, government, and entertainment and technology companies threaten journalism and innovation.

Do Not Kill Registry
Gallows humor:

In response to the establishment of a national ‘kill list’ and the expansion of the United States’ predator drone program, the National Agency for Ethical Drone-Human Interactions has launched the Do Not Kill Registry. Adding your name to the registry will assist us in avoiding accidental casualties in our mission to make the world a safe place for Democracy and Free Enterprise. 

That said, don’t forget the disclaimer: 

Adding your name to the ‘Do Not Kill’ Registry does not guarantee that you will not be the target of a drone strike but only that an additional review process will be undertaken before you are labeled an enemy militant and added to the national kill list. 

Do Not Kill Registry

Gallows humor:

In response to the establishment of a national ‘kill list’ and the expansion of the United States’ predator drone program, the National Agency for Ethical Drone-Human Interactions has launched the Do Not Kill Registry. Adding your name to the registry will assist us in avoiding accidental casualties in our mission to make the world a safe place for Democracy and Free Enterprise. 

That said, don’t forget the disclaimer

Adding your name to the ‘Do Not Kill’ Registry does not guarantee that you will not be the target of a drone strike but only that an additional review process will be undertaken before you are labeled an enemy militant and added to the national kill list. 

Leaking to the press?! This can’t be tolerated!!
Via Cartoon Politics.

Leaking to the press?! This can’t be tolerated!!

Via Cartoon Politics.