I’m not sure how to react to the rapid ascent of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or “drones.” On the one hand, you have people using drones to film extreme sports, take breathtaking video footage in nature, and even get an overhead view of the construction of Apple’s new spaceship campus. But on the other hand, you have the idiots that were at the controls of not one, but five drones during a recent wildfire in southern California. The rubbernecking drones delayed the response of firefighting by nearly a half hour, when every minute counts in lessoning the spread of a fire.
Now we have would could be the most interesting use for a personal drone yet: a flying gun platform. Of course, the U.S. Military (and other military forces around the world) use drones to carry out missile strikes on enemy targets. But putting a gun on a commercial drone was something that didn’t even cross my mind until I saw the footage below:
The video shows a quad-rotor drone hovering in mid-air, firing a semi-automatic handgun four times within wooded property in Clinton, Connecticut. The drone, which was constructed by 18-year-old Austin Haughwout, an aspiring mechanical engineer, isn’t nearly as lethal as a Predator drone firing AMG-114 Hellfire missiles at insurgents, but it was enough to spook the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“The FAA will investigate the operation of an unmanned aircraft system in a Connecticut park to determine if any Federal Aviation Regulations were violated,” said FAA spokesman Jim Peters when the video first surfaced earlier this month. “The FAA will also work with its law enforcement partners to determine if there were any violations of criminal statutes.”
While the gun-toting drone didn’t violate any state laws, Sgt. Jeremiah Dunn of the Clinton Police Department calls the contraption “alarming.” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to think of the havoc that could be waged with a gun-toting drone in the hands of a nefarious operator, but the same can be said for a person that is actually holding a gun.
But even if firing guns from drones is deemed legal, it doesn’t make it right says attorney Peter Sachs. “There are countless ways that drones can be useful. Using one as a remote-controlled weapon is not one of them, and I question the judgment of anyone who would attempt to do so.”
What say you Hot Hardware readers; is this flying weapons platform a recipe for disaster or just a cool way for hobbyists to blow off some steam?