On school-day mornings, I walk my grade-school-age son 400 meters down the hill to the bus stop. Last winter, I fantasized about sitting at my computer while a camera-equipped drone followed him overhead.
So this year, I set out to build one.
I had said in several presentations that I was betting that 2012 was the year we’d see the first lawsuits for stalking-by-drone. This project is the first steps to that…if you use professional-grade hardware and add in facial recognition, it’s within the boundaries of current technology to build a drone that identifies someone visually, and then just follows them around, filming them.
Semi-autonomous flying things are already available to the general public and will continue to become more available. Yet our intuitive privacy settings, our security forces, and our sense of property all assume humans on the ground.
Let me posit this: Drones will make traditional fences as obsolete as gunpowder and cannons made city walls.
The Internet is going wild for Tacocopter, perhaps the next great startup out of Silicon Valley, which boasts a business plan that combines four of the most prominent touchstones of modern America: tacos, helicopters, robots and laziness.Indeed, the concept behind Tacocopter is very simple, and very American: You order tacos on your smartphone and also beam in your GPS location information. Your order — and your location — are transmitted to an unmanned drone helicopter grounded, near the kitchen where the tacos are made, and the tacocopter is then sent out with your food to find you and deliver your tacos to wherever youre standing.
With the development of GPS controlled drones, far-reaching cheap radio equipment and tiny new computers like the Raspberry Pi, we’re going to experiment with sending out some small drones that will float some kilometers up in the air. This way our machines will have to be shut down with aeroplanes in order to shut down the system. A real act of war.
We’re just starting so we haven’t figured everything out yet. But we can’t limit ourselves to hosting things just on land anymore. These Low Orbit Server Stations (LOSS) are just the first attempt. With modern radio transmitters we can get over 100Mbps per node up to 50km away. For the proxy system we’re building, that’s more than enough.
Electronic Countermeasures is a project by Liam Young of think tank Tomorrow’s Thoughts Today, working with design studio Unknown Fields Division, and Eleanor Saitta and Oliviu Lugojan-Ghenciu of Superflux. The project is essentially an autonomous, roaming Internet swarm, constructed from repurposed UAVs.