Lethal Potential of Hobby Drones Demands Feds’ Attention after Recent White House Landing
When a small recreational drone crashed onto the White House grounds last month, the initial reaction was no harm done. Authorities characterized the incident as a harmless accident by a hobbyist who lost control of a $400 remote-controlled quadcopter.
But experts inside the government have worried for some time about the vulnerability posed to vital government and private installations by small hobby drones. These aircraft can be weaponized, equipping them with explosives or even automatic firearms, they say.
As it turned out, only 10 days before that drone crashed outside the White House, officials from the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Aviation Administration and the military met to discuss the danger of hobbyist drones. It was shown that drones can be fitted with semi-automatic weapons and bombs, and that Syrian rebels have imported the craft with the intent of using them to launch attacks.
The same drones also have been used to smuggle drugs across the U.S. border with Mexico and into prisons.
In response to the White House incident on January 26, SZ DJI, the Chinese maker of the Phantom drone, said it would update the software in its craft, which would prevent them from flying within a 15.5-mile radius of the White House or crossing national borders.
To Learn More:
Why the U.S. Government Is Terrified of Hobbyist Drones (by Kevin Poulsen, Wired)
Criminals, Terrorists Find Uses for Drones, Raising Concerns (by Jack Nicas, Wall Street Journal)
White House Drone Crash Described as a U.S. Worker’s Drunken Lark (by Michael D. Shear and Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times)
Drone Threat to Nuclear Plants (by Melissa Hersh, Defense News)
Hobby Drones As Guided Bombs and the Rise of Laser Defense Systems (by Tyler Rogoway, Foxtrot Alpha)
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