Drones Are Flying Over American Soil, and Not Just for Fun

The use of drones to carry out strategic military strikes at various locations overseas has been well documented. The recent proliferation and innovation of drones here on American soil has yet to receive the coverage that it really deserves. It’s essential for people to know about the increase of civilian drone use and law enforcement use of drones for surveillance. The video below reveals an incredible new taser ability that some drones now have.

Civilian Drone Use Draws Attention from Technology Companies, the White House and the…NFL
Sometimes referred to as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), drones have become so popular that they’ve been featured on several recent news reports. A small drone recently crashed upon the lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. The man operating it apparently worked for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, but was operating the drone in his off time for recreation. After seeing that the incident made national news, the man reported himself to the Secret Service.

In preparation for the Super Bowl, the NFL recently released a short video to remind fans that the use of drones near the stadium strictly prohibited. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) currently prohibits flying drones over NFL, MLB, and NASCAR events. Drones equipped with high performance cameras are now frequently used for cinematography and can provide dramatic views of events and environments.

Many drones used by civilians for recreation fall into the FAA’s Model Aircraft category and are supposed to stay under a height of 400 feet. Despite this, there has been an increasing number of incidents of drones being spotted by planes at heights much higher than that. A civilian-piloted drone conflicting with an airplane carrying passengers is becoming more and more of a concern.

One of the most talked-about new features of drone technology is what’s called the “Follow Me” feature. Drones equipped with GPS technology link up with your phone’s signal and follow you, recording all of your outdoor adventures. While the technology is certainly fun and exciting, abilities like the Follow Me feature promise that the future of drones will not always be just for fun.

How are Drones being used by Law Enforcement?
Cash-strapped law enforcement agencies across the country are showing a growing interest in the use of drones for activities like surveillance and pursuit. These unmanned aerial vehicles are much cheaper than helicopters and planes, not to mention much more versatile. Let’s take a look at how some law enforcement agencies are using drones.

While many people think of drones as strictly elements of warfare, these vehicles are actually more used for surveillance here on American soil. Many have the ability to hover over one particular location at a height of over 700 feet for time periods around 3 hours. Our nation’s borders and areas of suspected criminal activities are frequently covered by unarmed drones.

Unseen and unheard by anyone on the ground, the drones used by some law enforcement agencies are able to use their equipped cameras to take images and video of whatever is below. Some are equipped with infrared and thermal cameras that enable them to record in low light as well as take in images with a heat signature like firearms and footprints.

It’s easy to see why law enforcement agencies that use drones prefer them to using helicopter pilots or police and SWAT officers engaging or observing suspected criminal activity. Most drone models are small enough to be packed in a police cruiser and can be launched, guided by GPS, and landed all from one laptop computer.

No drone model currently used by law enforcement is armed (that we could find) but the ability of some to use grenade launchers and 12-gauge shotgun rounds in defense is not altogether implausible. These models can however, be armed with gas canisters and tasters and armored protective materials.

A concerned citizen would do well to research their home state’s regulations on the use of drones, when a warrant is required, and how any images are stored.

How to Protect Yourself From Drone Surveillance
There are plenty of reasons why we should investigate ways to protect ourselves from drones. We may not currently need to be dodging drone strikes by armed robotic aerial vehicles, but the recent increase in drone use by civilians and law enforcement should encourage us all to be better prepared.

Stay under cover with camouflaging techniques. When being pursued or observed from the air it is crucial to stay in areas with cover provided by trees and shelters as much as possible. To facilitate movement, tunnels and underground shelters are an ideal strategy.

Some of the drones models used by law enforcement are small enough and maneuverable enough to navigate hallways and doorways, eliminating the need for K-9 dogs and officers to be in danger. Using shelters either underground or with a variety of entrances and exits can be useful to protect against surveillance of this type.

Materials like aluminum, mirrors, glass and other reflective surfaces can help to disrupt the recording capabilities of surveillance drones. Using camouflaging techniques like smoke from fires can help to disrupt drones and cover movement. Burn materials like tires or large piles of green branches to create as much smoke as possible.

It is certainly clear that unmanned aerial vehicles, whether just for fun or for law enforcement surveillance, are not going to be flying away anytime soon. They’re here and there are just too many upsides for their use by police and government officials. Drones are cheaper and more maneuverable than traditional aircraft and they don’t require sacrifice the lives of officers and soldiers on the ground.

Being aware of how these drones can be used and just what their capabilities are is a good step forward in preventing drone surveillance of civilian activities.