Motherboard Made a Documentary on Unmanned Drones Flying Stateside
They are overhead, far away, buzzing in the distance. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are cruising over Benghazi in the wake of the attack on the US Embassy in Libya, sniffing out jungle-coke labs from high above Bolivia, and so on and so forth. You’ve heard a lot about these and other flying robots under their onomatopoetic nom de presse—drones.
These are the new armaments of warfare abroad. But drones are coming to the States. They’re actually already here. And if there’s one nagging public misconception with the domestic aerial dronescape it’s that these things are all-seeing, airliner-sized kill machines raining Hellfire missiles with all the cold unfeeling precision of a HAL-Terminator love child. They aren’t, at least not yet. Most of the coming drone fleet will be medium- to small-sized, non-lethal robots of limited range. Spy toys, in other words. Over the next decade they will become increasingly common as surveillance tools for government and local law enforcement agencies. Or, for the DIY set, as alternates to Google Maps, or as the next-generation in pizza delivery.
In that spirit, enjoy this teaser for Drone On, our forthcoming documentary on the unmanned revolution. From the world’s largest and gnarliest weapons expo in Jordan to southern California, we caught up with some of the top players in aerial spy tech to check out some of their leading-edge micro drones and pet projects, gauge privacy concerns, chat about the myriad differences between the open-source drones and military-contracted spy ‘bots, and somehow convince them all to let us fly their UAVs. This is not doomist speculation on near futures, but rather a good, hard look out the window at the some of the sky spies already above our heads.
Stay tuned. The film premieres next month on Motherboard.VICE.com.
Until then, get your drone fix at Motherboard Presents: Droneworld, an evening we’re curating as part of the Et Cetera ideas festival. We’ll be diving into the uncanny and exciting world of the robotic vehicle to understand how it’s transforming our world, from how we how we waste an afternoon to how we kill. Hear a late night chat about our robot past, present, and future, with detours into Peruvian archeology, Marilyn Monroe, remote taco delivery, and more. With surprise unmanned cameos, all set to luscious drone from DJ /rupture and MEGAFORTRESS. With more sounds, dancing, drinking, and human-to-human interaction to follow.
It’s all going down this Thursday, September 20, at Public Assembly in Brooklyn beginning at 9 PM. See you there. No cover. Bring drones.