DARPA's 1.8 Gigapixel Drone Camera Could See You Waving At It From 15,000 Feet ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGxNyaXfJsA

FAA moves closer to widespread US drone flights with plan for test sites

A future in which unmanned drones are as common in U.S. skies as helicopters and airliners has moved a step closer to reality with a government request for proposals to create six drone test sites around the country.

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The FAA plans to begin integrating drones starting with small aircraft weighing less than about 55 pounds. The agency forecasts an estimated 10,000 civilian drones will be in use in the U.S. within five years.

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Montgomery County, Texas, has a 50-pound ShadowHawk helicopter drone intended to supplement its SWAT team.

The sheriff's department hasn't armed its drone, although the ShadowHawk can be equipped with a 40 mm grenade launcher and a 12-guage shotgun. The prospect of armed drones patrolling U.S. skies has alarmed some lawmakers and their constituents. More than a dozen bills have been introduced in Congress and state legislatures to curb drone use and protect privacy.

AssociatedDepress

One thing to note is that a drone can just hang out at 15,000 feet over a small city-sized area (roughly, half of Manhattan) and provide video surveillance of the whole thing. The other thing to note is that they are running machine vision on the moving objects, which means they are generating structured data out of the video, not just displaying the pictures.

Imagine some branch of government or a corporation (maybe not Google, but maybe Google) set one of these guys up over an American city. They say that Big Data analysis has told them that criminals (or consumers) display certain types of behavior that can be spotted at that distance, helping them deploy police (or marketing promotions) on the ground more effectively. And the rest of the city's citizens? Well, they're collateral data.

Maybe far-fetched for the United States, but imagine this technology widely deployed in a country with a more repressive government.