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[infowar.de] Überwachungsdrohnen jetzt auch bei der Polizei
Wenn man sich die Geschichte der polizeilichen Nutzung ursprünglich
militärischer Technologien ansieht, fragt man sich natürlich: Wann können
die Dinger auch schießen? Oder jedenfalls rufen "Stehenbleiben, Polizei!"?
Zu letzterem siehe aktuell
Drones Taking a Bite Out of Crime
Associated Press 14:45 PM Jun, 19, 2006
LOS ANGELES -- This could be the shape of things to come in crimefighting.
In the months ahead, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department will test
an unmanned, remote-controlled surveillance plane.
If deputies want a birds-eye view of a standoff, they might scramble the
unmanned drone instead of a helicopter to get a closer, quieter look.
Within minutes, real-time color video would be streamed to a portable
computer system manned by an officer 250 feet below.
Officials with the nation's largest sheriff's department said it is
believed to be the first field test of drones by local police in a major
U.S. urban area.
Much lighter and smaller than the military drones flown over Iraq and
Afghanistan, and only a fraction of the cost, the aircraft is not much
bigger than a model airplane and will initially be limited to scanning
rooftops for break-ins and finding lost children or hikers.
Depending on the outcome of the tests, the department could eventually put
as many as 20 of the aircraft into service, expanding their use to
searching for suspects on the run and monitoring hostage situations, among
other things. The drones would be used in addition to the sheriff's fleet
of 18 helicopters.
"We're really beyond the cutting edge," said sheriff's Cmdr. Sid Heal, who
heads the department's technology exploration project. "We think this has
So do police and security officials nationwide. The federal Department of
Homeland Security has used unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, to patrol
the seas and spot illegal border crossings.
President Bush is pushing Congress to provide funding for more drones to
step up surveillance along the Mexican border.
Elsewhere, police in Gaston County, North Carolina, said earlier this year
they would use a drone to find drug fields and keep large community events
peaceful. Sheriff's officials in Charles County, Maryland, tested an
unmanned plane while monitoring a gathering of bikers.
Where authorities see a novel law enforcement tool, others worry about
intrusive government surveillance.
If a plane is used to gain evidence that police would otherwise need a
search warrant to collect, that could infringe on privacy rights,
according to law professor Charles Whitebread of the University of
In a 2001 case, the U.S. Supreme Court found that federal agents had
carried out an illegal search in violation of the Fourth Amendment when
they used thermal imaging equipment to spot marijuana grown inside a
Heal said the Sheriff's Department has no plans to spy on people. He said
the unmanned planes would not give deputies that much more surveillance
capability than helicopters.
One drone costs $20,000 to $30,000. In contrast, a helicopter and the
necessary fuel, maintenance and manpower cost millions.
The sheriff's helicopters are often involved in other calls and
unavailable for emergency use. Helicopters also make so much noise that
SWAT teams have been known to order them away because they interfered with
In the past two years, the Sheriff's Department has teamed with Octatron
of La Verne, California, to develop the SkySeer, a five-pound UAV powered
by replaceable battery that lasts about 70 minutes. It has aluminum and
nylon fabric wings atop a Kevlar fuselage.
With a top speed of just under 29 mph, the unmanned plane is too slow for
Equipped with an infrared sensor, it can operate at night to help find
people lost in cold, mountainous areas. About 6 1/2 feet wide and almost 3
feet long, the plane can be folded easily into a tube small enough to fit
in the back seat of a squad car.
Last week, sheriff's officials demonstrated the UAV in an abandoned field.
A deputy on the ground adjusted coordinates on a laptop that beamed a
signal to the plane's global positioning system. Soon, the drone was
circling in a holding pattern. Another screen showed real-time, color
images fed from above.
Landing proved tricky. As officials attempted to bring it down, the plane
suddenly nosedived into the ground and crashed.
"Everything works in the lab," Heal joked.
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