3 Frightening, Futuristic Pieces of Drone News

Coming soon: swarms of mechanized eagles
Hawk... or drone? (Mr. T in DC/Flickr)

Some items of drone news reached my Twitter timeline today. Here are three particularly intriguing ones:

1. A Spanish defense company, Expal, is manufacturing drones camouflaged to look like large birds. 

Nobody can tell it's a spy because it's designed to the exact body shape and feather pattern of [an] eagle,” Sofía Alfaro Marco, branding manager of Expal, told the Guardian. “We can design it to look like any large bird, depending on the location of the client.”

The bird-drone can fly only 33 feet above its target, the paper also reports, compared with the more than 3,000 feet required with other drones. As Joane McNeil wrote:

2. Drone amateurs are testing drone swarms. At GeoDC, a technology meet-up last night in Washington, Harvard researcher John Crowley described using packs of drones to feed information about thermal updrafts and location to each other. If they can teach drones to swarms, he said, according to a transcription:

we can cover large areas very quickly. It also turns out that communicating thermals and their location enables these UAVs to stay up for a very long time, because they tell each other where to find the place to give them lift, and that greatly reduces fuel and gives us a lot of airtime.

3. The United States and Japan will collaborate on a long-distance drone partnership in order to surveil remote islands. Reports the AP:

The drones [...] are designed in part to help step up surveillance around the Senkaku islands, a source of heated debate between Japan and China. Under the plan, two or three will fly out of a U.S. base. While the U.S. has operated unmanned aircraft over Japan in the past, for example during the 2011 tsunami, this would be the first time that drones would be based in Japan.

And that’s not all of today’s drone news, even! Drones might be patrolling American farmland soon! Tumblr’s founder, David Karp, flies his personal drones around Brooklyn! An unknown pilot flew (and lost) a drone over Manhattan on Monday! It almost fell on a financial analyst!

Point being, I look forward to swarms of long-distance Japanese mecha-hawks patrolling our urban farms very soon.

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Robinson Meyer is an associate editor at The Atlantic, where he covers technology.

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