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Eight Additional Reasons to Ground Drones

By Gar Smith / Environmentalists Against War
Friday May 02, 2014 - 10:32:00 AM

Presentation to the City Council Workshop on Drones

First I would like to commend the Police Review Board and the Peace and Justice Commission for their comprehensive 19-page report (complete with 57 footnotes). And now for some recent news: 


(1) In late January, US Customs and Border Protection grounded its entire fleet of drones after an unexplained mechanical problem forced operators to crash the aircraft into the Pacific. Unfortunately, the "ocean-option" is not always available. In 2006, a Customs drone weighing 6,400 pounds crashed into a hillside near Nogales, Arizona. 

(2) The Air Line Pilots Association, the country's largest pilots' union, recently criticized the FAA's rush to introduce drones in to the community airspace. (Businessweek has identified drones as the world's "most accident-prone" class of aircraft.) 

(3) In March, a six-rotor [see video below] was used to demonstrate how its owners could zap "suspicious" persons with 80,000-volts, knocking them out "until police arrive." A pepper spray option is also in the works. 


(4) Working both sides of the market, the CUPID developers are building drones with electromagnetic weapons that can disable other drones, forcing them to tumble out of the sky. 

(5) Drones can invite "defensive retaliation." In Montana, Matt Rosendale, a candidate for US Congress, has released a TV spot [below] that shows him knocking a drone out of the sky with a shotgun. 


6) Even when drones are not camera-equipped, there can be mayhem. A YouTube compilation [below] shows an anarchist group unleashing hobby drones on golf courses, in bullfighting arenas, at skate parks, inside subway stations, and even during London's Changing of the Guards. 


(7) In addition to the privacy issues raised by drones equipped with cameras and other sensors, the proliferation of commercial drones would pose safety and quality-of-life concerns. Amazon is pushing for drone-delivery of packages, some of which could weigh 5 pounds or more. There would be no FAA oversight of these commercial drones crisscrossing overhead bearing book orders, hot pizzas, prescription meds, bottles of bleach and six-packs of Anchor Steam. 

Finally, here's another previously unaddressed problem: drone/bird collisions. (Note: The video shows how easily drones can spy on neighbors and entire neighborhoods — or threaten highways and rail lines. The attacking swarm of birds shows up near the 3-minute mark). 


YouTube is filled with scores of bird/drone confrontations. 



Sometimes the birds knock the drones from the sky. 

Sometimes the drones kill the birds. 

Sometimes the drones just spook the birds. 




Here are some of the comments accompanying the videos: 

I was flying my Hexa Sentinel drone and … I found out just how territorial birds can be." 

"I must have annoyed a group of birds, they teamed up & started dive bombing … from all directions…, I lost control" and crashed. 

"This crow … almost crashed my heli and killed itself. I just happened to do a flip and show[ed] my 'talons' when it attacked." 

In conclusion: No Drones. Do it for public safety, do it for personal privacy, do it for the birds. 

Other Drone Videos 

Footage from Drone Shot Down by Turkish Police in Taksim Square (June 11, 2013) 

Drones Shot Down Over Texas. (May 23, 2012) 

Pigeon Hunters Shoot Down Drone Belonging to Animal Rights Group. (November 19, 2012) 

Hunters Shoot down Multirotor. (December 16, 2012) 

The 1st FAA Prosecution of a Civilian Drone UAV. (October 17, 2013) 

When Octocopters go bad. It this the sound you want to hear in our future skies? (June 8, 2011) 


Drone Attack (on an unsuspecting wife)