Friday, March 11, 2011
It's the flying 'Big Brother': Police unveil drone that can see inside houses
It seems that there's just no escape from 'Big Brother' seeing into our lives.
Now police in Miami, Florida, have unveiled their latest crime-fighting tool that is literally an 'eye in the sky'.
Their state-of-the art 'Micro Air Vehicle' is a remote controlled flying drone fitted with cameras that can capture images from heights.
Police will be able to control the flying surveillance camera while real-time pictures are relayed to the officer on the ground.
Similar devices are currently used by the military to check dangerous areas such as empty buildings or areas of suspected land mines before the enter.
But with the possibility that the device will be used on civilians it has raised concerns about privacy.
'What happens when they fly over backyards and they see something without a warrant that they want to take against,' the American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Howard Simon told CBS Miami.
Miami police used a $50,000 grant to buy one of the machines which stand around 40cm high on four thin legs.
The devices are able to fly straight up and manoeuvre in different directions. They can also hover like a helicopter.
Police admitted the MAV has the ability if flown low enough to look into people’s home but they claim that is not its intended purpose.
Miami-Dade Sgt. Andrew Cohen said drone will be used to gather real time information in situations which may be too dangerous for officers.
This includes riots or stand-offs with dangerous criminals. It could even be used to chase criminals who are on the run from police.
'If an SRT (Special Response Team) has to go into an area they don’t know what’s there, we don’t know what is in the backyard,' said Cohen.
'They want to know if there are dogs in the backyard, if there is a shed, things that could be a threat to us.
'If this thing is deployed, it’s only going to be used in situations where we already have an ongoing police scene.
'They are going to know we are there because we will have tactical teams, SRT teams, we’re going to have a perimeter, it’s going to be secure.'
The police have submitted an application to the Federal Aviation Authority use the machine but the approval process can take up to six months.