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Analysis and Comment (31)

Even bears don’t mess with drones. Even bears don’t mess with drones. John Biehler

Drones are fun toys until you get hit in the face by one

Mini drones are not yet appearing in our skies on a daily basis but they certainly are a rapidly growing trend. People can and do get hurt so we really need to help amateur pilots learn how to fly their…
Who’s looking at who when drones take to the sky? Who’s looking at who when drones take to the sky? Flickr/fisl quinze

Drones finally get MPs talking tougher on privacy laws

The increasing use of drone aircraft in Australia may finally lead to a long overdue change in privacy laws to protect against the use of remote eyes and ears in invasive technologies. The call for tougher…
A MQ-9 Reaper Drone has an operational cost one-fifth of the F35 Joint Strike Fighter. So should drones replace soldiers in military warfare? A MQ-9 Reaper Drone has an operational cost one-fifth of the F35 Joint Strike Fighter. So should drones replace soldiers in military warfare? US Air Force

Drones are cheap, soldiers are not: a cost-benefit analysis of war

Cost is largely absent in the key debates around the use of unmanned drones in war, even though drones are a cost-effective way of achieving national security objectives. Many of the common objections…
Drone strikes may be slowing in Pakistan, but the damage has already been done. Drone strikes may be slowing in Pakistan, but the damage has already been done. EPA/Nadeem Khawer

New data shows drones killed hundreds of Pakistani civilians

The US’s program of drone strikes in Pakistan has, according to recent reports, slowed down considerably. But while this will encourage various observers, and while the Obama administration earned some…
The Obama administration’s revised drone warfare policy is currently being put to the legal and ethical test. The Obama administration’s revised drone warfare policy is currently being put to the legal and ethical test. World Can't Wait

Killing Americans abroad: has Obama’s policy really changed?

When is a government entitled to kill its own citizens? That’s the question at the centre of recent revelations that the Obama administration might conduct a strike against an American suspected of plotting…
That’s one way to get around Facebook’s facial recognition. That’s one way to get around Facebook’s facial recognition. mw238

Privacy 2013: from Snowden to Facebook to Amazon’s drones

While every year since the advent of the internet has had its share of privacy stories, 2013 has been a cornucopia of news about surveillance and personal data. Undoubtedly, the biggest story of the year…
It’s not a game: RAF pilots controlling a UAV at Kandahar Airport. It’s not a game: RAF pilots controlling a UAV at Kandahar Airport. Defence Images

Killing with drones is not ‘easy’

The Reaper drone pilot and sensor operator stared intently at the bank of screens in front of them, their concentration fixed on one individual. Their target had been identified by more than one intelligence…
You can wait a long time for a postman to show up in the country. You can wait a long time for a postman to show up in the country. amandabhslater

Small businesses think smart to keep up with Amazon drones

The biggest names in internet retail appear to be dramatically stepping up efforts to make delivering your online orders, fast, reliable and extremely hi-tech. But in a week in which Amazon talked up its…
UAVs as small as 10cm by 2.5cm are already in use for surveillance by the military. What are the privacy implications if these devices become easily accessible? UAVs as small as 10cm by 2.5cm are already in use for surveillance by the military. What are the privacy implications if these devices become easily accessible? Defence Images/Flickr

Amazon’s eyes in the sky and pig farmers might fly

What happens when an Amazon drone drops through your roof or lands on the neighbour’s toddler while delivering a parcel? Can an unhappy pig farmer shoot down a drone operated by animal rights activists…
Not quite ready for your Christmas orders. Not quite ready for your Christmas orders.

Don’t count on Amazon drone deliveries just yet

Apparently keen to inject a bit of fun into its image after a damaging few weeks of press coverage, online retail giant Amazon has announced that it is experimenting with the use of drones to deliver its…
Would you trust this guy with a surface to air missile? Would you trust this guy with a surface to air missile? Stop Killer Robots

Better to know your enemy when taking on a killer robot

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, a network of NGOs and academics, has done us all a valuable service by drawing attention to the development of unmanned systems that are able to kill without direct…
Soon they will buzz around you much like flies. Soon they will buzz around you much like flies. arselectronica

Not just weapons of war: drones hold much potential for civilians

Robotic aircraft, or drones, are a much-debated military technology. But while this change in military capability challenges our shared senses of threat and protection, robotic aircraft have also been…
Animal rights groups have been using drone technology to monitor farmers' compliance with welfare laws. Under US style “ag gag” laws any footage taken could not be distributed. Animal rights groups have been using drone technology to monitor farmers' compliance with welfare laws. Under US style “ag gag” laws any footage taken could not be distributed. flickr/eschipul

Expect more spy drones if ‘ag gag’ laws introduced

The “remotely operated Hexacopter drone” may sound like something out of the latest Hollywood sci-fi, but this new technology is about to take centre stage in Australia’s animal welfare debate. Drones…
Australian police efforts to get more drones pay scant attention to how poorly they’ve worked overseas. Australian police efforts to get more drones pay scant attention to how poorly they’ve worked overseas. grimjaws

Are police drones just toys for the boys?

Before the election, Tony Abbott reaffirmed the Coalition’s commitment to purchasing unmanned “drone” aircraft for military use, but he emphasised the need to review their efficacy and cost effectiveness…
It’s getting crowded up there. It’s getting crowded up there. Copyright, European Space Agency, ESA

George Clooney isn’t the only one with an eye in the sky

George Clooney revealed details last week about “his” spy satellite over Sudan, which he funds to keep an eye on the Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who has been accused of war crimes. The Satellite…
The state is still in control, it’s when drones and robots develop their own interests that Terminator becomes a true story. The state is still in control, it’s when drones and robots develop their own interests that Terminator becomes a true story. AAP / Alan Porritt

Lethal autonomous robots: who’s really in control?

Anxiety about lethal autonomous robots has some substance. The state of play as currently constituted, however, already provides enough cause for concern. The Terminator scenario Monash associate professor…
Misplaced faith in the possibility of risk-free warfare may end up putting more lives at risk. Misplaced faith in the possibility of risk-free warfare may end up putting more lives at risk. L.C.Nøttaasen

Lethal autonomous robots must be stopped in their tracks

The topic of killer robots was drawn back into the public sphere last week with the widely publicised call for a moratorium on the development and use of “lethal autonomous robotics” by a top UN human…
Non-governmental organisations have joined forces to stop the increasing use of drones in warfare - do governments need to develop guidelines for their use? Non-governmental organisations have joined forces to stop the increasing use of drones in warfare - do governments need to develop guidelines for their use? EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

The debate over military technology: in defence of drones

The increasing use of drones, especially by the United States against the Taliban in Pakistan, has prompted wide anti-drone activism. Human Rights Watch has called for a “pre-emptive and comprehensive…
Imran Khan has been accused by political opponents of having links to the “Jewish lobby”. Imran Khan has been accused by political opponents of having links to the “Jewish lobby”. EPA

‘Imran Khan, Jewish agent’: welcome to the wonderful world of Pakistani politics

This piece was originally published on May 8 but has since been updated to reflect overnight developments. Imran Khan sustained head and back injuries due to a fall as he was preparing to address a rally…
Despite the UN recently passing the Arms Trade Treaty, little has been done to regulate the use of drone warfare. Despite the UN recently passing the Arms Trade Treaty, little has been done to regulate the use of drone warfare. EPA/Yahya Arhab

Drone strikes and civilian protection: why Australia must take a stand

After over a decade of lobbying and at least three years of protracted negotiations, an overwhelming majority of the United Nations General Assembly voted to adopt the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in late March…
The arrival of 66 asylum seekers by boat on the mainland coast of Australia at Geraldton has prompted the opposition to promise tough new border security measures, including the use of drones to detect boats at sea. The arrival of 66 asylum seekers by boat on the mainland coast of Australia at Geraldton has prompted the opposition to promise tough new border security measures, including the use of drones to detect boats at sea. AAP/Mark Cairn

All the King’s drones won’t stop the boats

After relying on immigration policies taken from the copy book of John Howard, the Liberal party has turned to defence technology for its latest policy innovation involving drones detecting boats carrying…
The rise in CCTV means many of us are under near constant observation, a trend that will only be exacerbated by the rise of drones. The rise in CCTV means many of us are under near constant observation, a trend that will only be exacerbated by the rise of drones. Flickr/ogglog

Brave new world: drones and the law

In the late 1970s I found myself wandering the mostly deserted streets of East Berlin, having successfully negotiated Checkpoint Charlie and a horde of East German border guards. I remember commenting…
How can UAV or “drone” technology be used for purposes outside combat? How can UAV or “drone” technology be used for purposes outside combat? NZ Defence Force

Not just for war: how drones can be used for good

It’s becoming rare to see or hear coverage of combat and conflict without the mention of unmanned “drones” and their use in targeted killings. The subject rated a mention in last year’s US presidential…
President Barack Obama officially nominates Chuck Hagel as Secretary for Defence. President Barack Obama officially nominates Chuck Hagel as Secretary for Defence. EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

Obama’s new national security team goes to war

Battle is being joined in Washington, where President Barack Obama, has nominated a former Republican senator, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, to be the next Secretary of Defense. He has also nominated John Brennan…
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney finally discussed the war in Afghanistan during the third debate on US foreign affairs. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney finally discussed the war in Afghanistan during the third debate on US foreign affairs. EPA/Michael Reynolds

The third debate and the nagging Afghan-Pakistan question

For a war that has gone on for more than a decade, cost the American taxpayer some US$500 billion, claimed the lives of more than two thousand GIs and inflicted many more thousands of wounded, the conflict…
Al-Qaeda deputy Abu Yahya al-Libi was killed by a drone strike last week. Al-Qaeda deputy Abu Yahya al-Libi was killed by a drone strike last week. EPA/IntelCentre

Game of drones: how UAVs changed the terms of war in the Middle East

With boots on the ground being costly politically, economically and diplomatically, it seems that week after week, drones are the most important front line weapon against Washington’s opponents in the…
An LED light-trail shows a self-guiding bullet correcting its trajectory mid-flight. An LED light-trail shows a self-guiding bullet correcting its trajectory mid-flight. Sandia National Laboratories

Self-guided bullets won’t stuff up, but what about the grunts and drones firing them?

At the beginning of this year Sandia Labs in the United States announced it had patented a design for a self-guided bullet that could help soldiers at war. The technology is expected to prevent the need…
Military drones, such as the Predator, are only part of the equation. Military drones, such as the Predator, are only part of the equation. balazsgardi

Spying, flying and delivering tacos – with drones, the sky’s the limit

The Federal Government is considering allowing the US to base military surveillance drones on the Cocos Islands – an Australian territory located in the Indian Ocean between Australia and Sri Lanka. The…
When you’re swimming at an unpatrolled beach, a UAV could help keep you safe. When you’re swimming at an unpatrolled beach, a UAV could help keep you safe. opacity

Eyes in the sky: how unmanned aircraft could patrol our beaches (and more)

For the past hundred-odd years, commercial aviation has relied on a human pilot sitting behind the controls of an aircraft. Today, designers and engineers are beginning to ask: “Is it even necessary to…

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