11A052 Humming Soon... by Jim Davies, 2/21/2011    

in a back yard near you: a mechanical bird, w/spy-cam aboard.

It's a feat of engineering to compare with a few hundred million years of evolution, yet it was developed at our expense by AeroVironment for the Pentagon. According to Fox News, this "Robot Hummingbird Spy Drone Flies for Eight Minutes, Spies on Bad Guys." The folk at Fox must have been smoking something strong, for any weapon created by the FedGov can be used anywhere it likes, to spy on anyone it wishes. This amazing drone has no ability to sense who is a bad guy and who, a good guy. It's only a matter of time before zillions of them are buzzing around where innocent people are minding what we thought was our own business.

Huffington Post is breathless: "It would allow the military to literally drop a bird at a window ledger [sic] for reconnaissance purposes. 'You can use these things anywhere, put them anyplace, and the target will never even know they're [sic] being watched,' said defense expert Peter W. Singer." Watch the video provided, it's impressive. And if you agree that fixed CCTV cameras are ominous, it's downright scary.

AeroVironment's web site indicates this is just the latest of a series of hand launched "unmanned aircraft systems" or UAS - yet another acronym we'd better learn - so that the FedGov's employees can better kill without being killed. Interesting name; the "Vironment" bit is obviously made to project a friendly image to eco-freaks in government circles, possibly with the reasoning that miniature spies consume less carbon fuel than bigger drones. I found no mention of general availability, so it may be a while yet before these gizmos can be purchased at the local Radio Shack. In fact, the development contract may expressly limit sales to the one buyer, Uncle's Army. It would hardly do, for Uncle's enemies to get their hands on them, would it?

However, reverse-engineering may be possible. I don't shoot living things for sport, but anything that flies over my property is, er, fair game for target practice and lifelike though these drones may be, they aren't living things and a little well-aimed birdshot ought to bring one down, albeit in damaged condition. Or if one gets close enough, one might even use a butterfly net.

So when this hummer hovers over your back yard, a few years from now, wouldn't it be really neat to return the compliment? - after all, government spy creeps have to live somewhere, and if lots of good people had a few of these birdies in the drawer under the TV, one of them could be flown over the garden of the local FBI director, or police chief, or DEA or IRS agent, purely of course for informational purposes and with no threat or intimidation implied. But these people are so paranoid, they could become quite unhinged by a series of electronic avian visitors - it might even distract them from their work, and would put a new twist on Hitchcock's idea in "The Birds."

But hey, what's sauce for the goose is, surely, sauce also for the gander?

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