The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles commonly known as “drones” or UAVs is on the rise. Mainstream media regularly covers the use of drones and ‘drone strikes’ in the fight against terrorists but what is not as well know is the use of UAVs to analyze weather patterns, protect borders or to keep neighborhoods and police officers safe.
One of the main claims of supporters is that UAVs will save lives. At conventions across the country the emphasis is on military application of unmanned systems. According to Vaughn Fulton, program manager for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) at Honeywell Aerospace in Albuquerque about 260 UAVs are deployed with the U.S.
Honeywell is marketing a UAV domestically. Currently the Miami-Dade Police Department has at least two UAVS. Reportedly the UAVs are used for “tactical” operations or SWAT team situations that involve potentially dangerous individuals. At this point the domestic use of UAVs is limited but with the growth of the industry we might expect the widespread use by local and federal policing agencies in the near future.
At this time it is impossible to separate the domestic use of unmanned vehicles from the military industrial complex that has contributed to their popularity, which makes it likely that a significant number of UAVs will end up being used within the United States. As to the downsides of the use of UAVs domestically, in the community there is virtually no discussion about the potential human or financial costs.
Title: ROBOCOP, Drones At Home
Author: Joseph Nevins
Publication: Boston Review, JAN/FEB 2011, pp. 32-37
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman, Santa Rosa Junior College
Student Researcher: Josh Fowler, Santa Rosa Junior College