Personal drones can snoop on you anywhere, anytime

November 7th, 2010 - 5:24 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 7 (IANS) Personal drones ferretting out deadly terrorists in Pakistan hills are likely to be put to a sinister new use - tracking anyone anywhere, which includes celebrities, lovers, housewives, even school kids.

These drones are smaller, private versions of the notorious Predator, which is relentlessly spying on terrorists and their hideouts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Already Splash News, a paparazzi photo agency, is planning to use the drones to chase celebrities around the Hollywood Hills.

“It would strike fear into the hearts of every celebrity having a birthday party,” Splash chief executive Gary Morgan told the Wall Street Journal ‘Call it C3paparazzo.’

The concept is strangely fitting: ‘paparazzi’ comes from an Italian word meaning the buzzing of a mosquito, reports the Daily Mail.

Now the metaphor is coming to life.

Several personal drones are scheduled for completion next year. Liverpool police have already used such drones to make at least one arrest.

In February, the Air Robot was deployed by Merseyside police after officers lost an alleged car thief who had escaped on foot in thick fog.

Using the device’s on-board camera and thermal-imaging technology, the operator was able to pick up the suspect through his body heat and direct foot patrols to his location.

It led officers to a 16-year-old youth, who was hiding in bushes alongside the Leeds-Liverpool canal, in Litherland, Merseyside.

The drone, which measures three feet between the tips of its four carbon fibre rotor blades, uses unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology originally designed for military reconnaissance.

It is designed to hover almost silently above crime scenes and send live footage to officers on the ground, but the unit can also ‘perch and stare’ from a solid platform, allowing the operator to capture hours of footage from a hidden vantage point.

The technology is swiftly moving beyond military and even police circles - already unmanned aircraft that can fly predetermined routes cost just a few hundred dollars and can be operated by an iPhone.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and Missy Cummings is working to develop a ‘Personal Sentry’ drone about the size of a pizza box that warns soldiers if danger is approaching from behind.

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