The rapid proliferation of military drone technology is reaching the point that other nations -- and even non-state actors such as Mexican drug cartels -- could engage in the kinds of deadly strikes that the U.S. pioneered more than a decade ago and has increased under presidents of both political parties.
Affordable consumer technology has made surveillance cheap and commoditized AI software has made it automatic. Those two trends merged this week, when drone manufacturer DJI partnered June 5 with Axon, the company that makes Taser weapons and police body cameras, to sell drones to local police departments around the United States. Now, not only do local police have access to drones, but footage from those flying cameras will be automatically analyzed by AI systems not disclosed to the public.
Drones are changing our world, from lifesaving innovations in healthcare, creating new works of art, to the race behind new efforts to secure our skies. And they're everywhere. According to Time magazine, drones are going from sub-culture to mainstream.
The hackers known as Fancy Bear, who also intruded in the U.S. election, went after at least 87 people working on militarized drones, missiles, rockets, stealth fighter jets, cloud-computing platforms or other sensitive activities, the AP found. Employees at both small companies and defense giants like Lockheed Martin Corp., Raytheon Co., Boeing Co., Airbus Group and General Atomics were targeted by the hackers.
We live in a world where technology is changing so quickly that career counseling, planning and educational choices must be based on forecasts of job availability. Technology is progressing in every industry, including aviation and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), making it essential that we prepare our young people for future careers in this arena.
The drone industry pleaded with Congress on Wednesday to ease restrictions on flight operations, warning that the U.S. is falling behind to other countries that are using the emerging technology in innovative ways. The use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) has exploded in recent years, with drones being deployed to monitor crops, fight wildfires, inspect infrastructure and assist with first response and hurricane recovery efforts.
President Trump on Oct. 25th signed a presidential memorandum directing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to create a pilot program that allows localities to propose expanded drone operations that include flights over people, nighttime operations and flying beyond the visual line of sight — all of which are currently prohibited.
America has a big bridge problem. There are more than a million bridges in the United States, and most were built during the great highway construction boom of the 1950s. They were designed for the relatively light panel trucks of the Eisenhower era, rather than the massive rigs of today. Meanwhile, the frequency of trips has surged. In 1950, trucks hauled 200 billion ton-miles of intercity commercial freight; by 2002, that number increased to 1.44 trillion ton-miles, or more than 600 percent.
"DJI has done everything right," said Chris Anderson, co-founder of 3DR, which had been the No. 2 drone maker but has transitioned into an aerial software company, helping companies precisely capture images and data. "They've innovated. They have globally branded and distributed, which is unusual for a Chinese company."