DARPA Pushes For FAA Approval For Military Drones Over American Cities
By Nicholas West/Activist PostNovember 05, 2018
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Just a little over 10 years after drone surveillance inside U.S. borders was declared a conspiracy theory, it is now an indisputable fact of life. So, too, are military grade drones along the "border," which in reality constitutes a 100-mile-wide swath that encircles the continental United States and 2/3 of its population.
According to a new report from Defense One, this level of access is still seen as a restriction by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA. As new forms of autonomous aircraft take to the skies such as the latest Blackhawk helicopter drones that could be ready by 2019, DARPA and aircraft developers want permission to fly over large cities as needed.
Utilizing a new artificial intelligence system that is literally called MATRIX, developers see an opportunity for more flexibility in potential use. Of course, surveillance isn't mentioned among those uses:
After that, similar to Predator drone maker General Atomics, they have their eyes on FAA certification to fly large, unmanned aircraft within the continental United States, to help ferry people and supplies from the mainland to offshore oil rigs, among other potential jobs. Today, large drones likes Predators are forbidden to fly over the U.S. except in a handful of largely unpopulated areas along the U.S.Mexico border.
The FAA is now figuring out how to change guidelines to allow unmanned planes and helicopters to fly over big cities. "We are working with the FAA on that. Our stated goal is 2030. It very much depends on rule making. We are certainly hoping for sooner, for the mid-2020s, to field it," he said.
The long-range plans of converting military aircraft to drones and incorporating them anywhere and everywhere inside America is also detailed and expanded upon as a potential replacement for the already controversial use of police drones.
By 2025, enormous military-style drones - close relatives of the sort made famous by counterterrorism strikes in Afghanistan and Iraq - will be visible 2,000 feet above U.S. cities, streaming high-resolution video to police departments below.
That is the bet that multiple defense contractors are placing, anyway, as they race to build unmanned aircraft that can pass evolving airworthiness certifications and replace police helicopters. And if that bet pays off, it will radically transform the way cities, citizens, and law enforcement interact.
We are now seeing various trends beginning to dovetail into what could become the ultimate in military presence over the United States. As I recently reported, new A.I. algorithms are being devised that look for emotional indicators in an attempt to predict crime and social unrest.
The "Eye in the Sky" system, developed by Cambridge University, seeks to use small Parrot drones to identify "violent poses" in crowds. The system will be powered by biometric recognition and artificial intelligence.
Imagine a system like this being applied to the far more sophisticated military systems that already exist, then connecting all of it to the growing federal biometrics database.
I suspect that if the FAA does grant access to larger military aircraft over U.S. cities, it will be with the "strict guidelines" that no forms of surveillance or weaponry will be permitted onboard. Of course, once granted even the slightest access, all it will take is one catastrophic event to remove any restrictions at all.
Drones have already been developed that are equipped with camera systems like DARPA's Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System (ARGUS). This sensor system can instantly see an area roughly the "size of a small city" with an "all-seeing" eye according to retired Lieutenant, David A. Deptula. The next generation of surveillance tech sees the landscape through a 1.8 billion pixels camera, the highest resolution yet created.
Using a touchscreen interface that can produce up to 65 windows for analysis, military observers can see down to the individual object level to track the movements of vehicles and people. Beyond the real-time surveillance, the system can store everything for future review right down to the minutes and seconds.
Originally published at Activist Post - reposted with permission.