Anura April 9, 2015 5:35 PM

The question is not whether it is a good idea, the question is whether it’s more cost effective than dealing with social issues. Hail Plutus!

Clive Robinson April 9, 2015 6:55 PM

Today Indian cops pepper-spraying, tomorrow some nutter dishing out NBC WMD.

I can think of several nasties you can cook up at home (subject TCP to heat and preasure plus a little something else and you get dioxin, very similar to that which Monsanto knew contaminated agent orange before it was sprayed all over Vietnam). That could then be sprayed quite easily from a drone with such a payload capability.

As I’ve noted befor on this blog and others, making WMD at home is not the hard part, it’s the delivery system that untill recently has been the hard part of weaponisation. Drones like the ones mentioned have made it almost “off the shelf” at quite low prices.

And don’t think legislation will stop the proliferation of such systems. The designs for such drones are now readily available so DIY drones are within many many peoples capabilities today.

ThatGuy April 10, 2015 12:05 AM

Remember EcoTopia. Callenbach had a way to deal with helicoptors. Could easily be adapted to drones!

Jacob April 10, 2015 4:17 AM


I really wonder if you need a present-day drone for an effective distribution system.
Since the days of Pussy Galore and her Flying Circus, I thought that a regular RC model airplane can be just an effective.

Randal April 10, 2015 8:48 AM

This is just a gateway drone. Next thing you know, they will be buying Rufie Drones.

Clive Robinson April 10, 2015 9:08 AM

@ Jacob,

I really wonder if you need a present-day drone for an effective distribution system.

The simple answer is yes…

The reason is what you are doing, RC aircraft in general are designed for performance not payload. Untill recently payload optimized designs were problematic in that they increased the payload potential by increasing lift not by wing area but by speed. Which is fine for most applications because either speed is not an issue, or it can be solved by height and larger optics etc.

WMD are in effect poisons, and all poisons have the issue of quantity, that is any given attack area needs a minimum level before it becomes effective as a weapon, especialy of terrorism. Even the extreamly well resoursed Japanese death cult failed to weaponsie their biological and chemical attacks. Nearly all of which actually went unnoticed until the underground sarin attacks which were so obvious in their approach that eventually the authorities realised there was an issue.

Thus to be effective as a delivery system the drone needs to be highly manoeuvrable, carry a reasonable payload (atleast a Kg) and fly low and slow to ensure sufficient target coverage, whilst also having sufficient range to be outside security cordons etc. Modern multirotor coptors are designed to do this and others have solved the complex flight control systms, whilst the technology uses the likes of GSM phone networks to make them controllable from just about anywhere with a very low cost easily disposable system.

I’m sure these facts are not exactly unknown to various security forces and as such the offensive capability in the hands of one force/group is causing “hebejebies” in other groups…

Sky April 10, 2015 9:49 AM

@Clive Robinson

“Today Indian cops pepper-spraying, tomorrow some nutter dishing out NBC WMD.”

I don’t understand: you admit that UAV are already available and easy to use, that WMD’s can be made at home, but you’re assuming bad people can’t figure out a spray delivery system?

Clive Robinson April 10, 2015 12:07 PM

@ Sky,

I don’t understand: you admit that UAV are already available and easy to use, that WMD’s can be made at home, but you’re assuming bad people can’t figure out a spray delivery system?

Not at all, the only thing we know is it’s not yet been reported as happening. Thus I’m only assuming that either they have not yet done it or if they have it’s been kept secret.

We know that Sadam Hussein was developing drones a couple of decades ago because unlike Iraqi WMD there was physical and paper evidence of these activities. They were destined to be used against the Iranians (which might be why they later captured a US one). And possibly even Israel along with longer range rockets.

From this we can reasonably conclude that there are people in Iran / Iraq that have the knowledge to build and deploy drones, but lack either the reason or resources to do so currently.

As for WMD we know that chemical weapons have been manufactured in syria in the form of munitions and that chemical weapons were used against civilians there. The west claimed one side and Russia claimed it was the other side which is why the UN security council “sat on it’s hands”. However if it was in munition form it appears to have been remarkably inefficient compared to conventional HE, and scrap iron in oil drums dropped out the back of helicopters.

Aside from nuclear bombs NBC WMD have a very poor track record for killing and disabling over the past hundred years or so. In practice they appear more to be weapons of terror against the unprotected like civilians as military personnel are fairly easily if labouriously trained to protect themselves via NBC “noddy suits” and “gasperators” along with the disgusting BATS tablets and “Combo pens”.

Alex April 10, 2015 1:43 PM

Since drones run off RF… I can’t wait to bring my own remote controller w/5 watt transmitter strapped to it and watch the drone pepper-spray the police.

Steve April 10, 2015 5:00 PM

Might reduce the total amount of force used if the drone could be selective and only shower disapproval on the ring leader(s).

Christian April 11, 2015 3:31 AM

But if your population is already accustomed to drones anyway.
i.e. daily killings by drones in neigboring countries. There may be a different response to this by the population then here.

Bigfishinnet April 12, 2015 9:59 AM

Of course the police use drones. One particular application is surveillance on high rises. If you were a crim then High Rise blocks make reasonable sense to have meetings at (you may draw the assumption that there might be a higher probability of crims living in high rises).

The police go to the roof and activate a heli-drone with camera’s and sound listening capabilities and fly it down to the level they need and just hover near the window they need to be on.

A very simple application that would not require much translation to be put to ‘other uses’

Coyne Tibbets April 12, 2015 10:22 PM

Soon to follow, gas-warfare drones: These will spray nerve gas to take care of all those terrorists.

Sasparilla April 13, 2015 12:55 PM

@Oliver “Couldn’t one take out that stupid drone with a good 12 gauge?”

It said the range with the spray was a mile (~5000 feet)….it could fly high enough to be out of the effective range of a shotgun and still do its job. And of course if its the government’s drone & you damage or shoot it down they’ll make you pay for it and/or go to jail.

The other side of this – is this would be so useful for the general suppression of crowds/protesters – not in a state of war where you could take your shotgun to a protest movement to shoot at will – then the drones get armed with guns and grenades to eliminate the troublemakers. It’s all rather frightening to ponder.

The government’s will want this kind of capability as badly as they want mass surveillance. The military operation where tons of these small drones (with weapons) go forward to take out people before their own forces come through is only a matter of time.

Annonymous Cow April 13, 2015 4:35 PM

…Pussy Galore and her Flying Circus…

They can be seen on radar. (Effectiveness of the radar operator is another story!) RCs and drones: not so much.

vas pup April 16, 2015 3:20 PM

The word of dissent if I may:
drones for police usage versus drones for military usage with active caspabilities differ in level of letality of equipment installed: lethal – for military, less then lethal – for police crowd control (border control – for boder guards) which is better than direct confrontation with police crowd control units for both sides -less casualties (physcial and psychological). That is not good option for crowd control, but just less evil.

Boo April 16, 2015 3:43 PM

“Since 2007, the TSA has also spent more than $900 million on a behavior detection program that has never been independently verified by researchers to be effective. But it was hard to learn more about the program, since TSA kept the particulars of how it worked a closely guarded secret. (National security, naturally.)”

Might want to invest in gyro detectors for inbound aircraft. Maybe you’ll find a Greek diner in Athens on the Potomac.

vas pup April 16, 2015 4:03 PM

Small addition: even military needs less-than-lethal capability drones when conducting MOUT (military operations in urban terrain) in the area with civilans present or used as a human schield.

Boo April 16, 2015 4:15 PM

“Military thinkers and planners have long been aware of the pitfalls of fighting in urban areas. As early as circa 500 B.C., Sun Tzu advised that “the worst policy is to attack cities,” and that advice has been echoed in military writings and doctrine to this day. However, despite that sensible advice, wars have been fought in cities repeatedly throughout the centuries, from the sack of Troy to the battles of Grozny.”

What did they do? Design a policy to attack cities. Solution? Mountain division.

Boo April 16, 2015 4:45 PM

Tanks and the City

Lesson Four: Adapt Tactics to the Situation

The principal Chechen city defense was the “defenseless defense.” They decided that it was better not to have strong points, but to remain totally mobile and hard to find.22 (Some strong points did exist but were limited to dug-in tanks, artillery, or BMPs to engage targets head-on.) Hit-and-run tactics made it difficult for the Russian force to locate pockets of resistance and impossible to bring their overwhelming firepower to bear against an enemy force. Russian firepower was diluted as a result and could be used only piecemeal. Chechen mobile detachments composed of one to several vehicles (usually civilian cars or jeeps) transported supplies, weapons, and personnel easily throughout the city. Chechens deployed in the vicinity of a school or hospital, fired a few rounds, and quickly left. The Russians would respond by shelling the school or hospital, but usually after the Chechens had gone. Civilians consequently viewed this action as Russians needlessly destroying vital facilities and endangering their lives, not realizing who had initiated the incident. The Chechen mobility and intimate knowledge of the city exponentially increased the effect of their “defenseless defense.”

The slaughter of the Russian 131st Brigade was a result of this tactic. Russian forces initially met no resistance when they entered the city at noon on 31 December. They drove their vehicles straight to the city center, dismounted, and took up positions inside the train station. Other elements remained parked along a side street as a reserve force. Then the Chechens went to work. The Russian lead and rear vehicles on the side streets were destroyed. The unit was effectively trapped. The tanks couldn’t lower their gun tubes far enough to shoot into basements or high enough to reach the tops of buildings, and the Chechens systematically destroyed the column from above and below with RPGs and grenades. At the train station, Chechens from other parts of the city converged on the station and surrounded it. The commander of the Russian unit waited until 2 January for reinforcements, but they never arrived. His unit was decimated.

Russians now advising Syria on strategy.

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