SAN FRANCISCO--My imagination throbbed during meeting at Rockwell
Collins in Iowa when Bob Newgard, director of advanced radio
systems, talked to us about
unmanned vehicles (video) and the commercial
"Think out of the box," he said. "We could make FedEx and UPS
And trucks. And trains (we already do).
But the real opportunity in the short term is the application of
much smaller UAVs: Ranchers keeping distant watch on their herds;
crop-dusting; rural mail delivery. Applications we're not even
thinking of. It's doable now.
This is an amazing world and era we live in...until you consider a
couple of videos.
video, a fellow has armed a helicopter drone with a
paintball gun to show its accuracy. In this other
video, someone has outfitted a helicopter drone with a
Springfield 1911-A pistol and blasted away at a target.
You get the picture. There are no rules and even if there were
rules, there's no way you could prevent dark uses of the technology,
especially from bad guys intent on it.What are you going to do,
prevent the manufacture of toy helicopters? Even if you did that, you can build these things yourself in your garage easily.
Vivek Wadwha brought this up earlier this week over coffee. He's as
much a technology cheerleader as I am, but he was
noticeably sad when he started describing how he's been researching
this topic for an article he's writing for the Washington Post.
"I have no answers," he said, almost plaintively, in describing the
potential societal consequences.
There more powerful and accessible the technology, the greater
tension between it and potential misuse.
This conversation needs to ramp up and quickly.
What are your thoughts?
- How do we as technologists address this problem?
- Is it a problem at all?
different perspective on UAVs
Valley Nation: Vivek Wadhwa and the future of design