What are the pieces for the next President to command all seeing hunter killer laser armed drones ?
* Super high resolution drone mounted cameras
* Laser armed drones
* 150 kilowatt or more powerful lasers
* An open ended legal policy for the use of drones for targeted killing
Lord Acton’s dictum, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
1. From an altitude of 17,500 feet a drone with a 1.8 gigapixel video camera can monitor half of Manhattan and they can zoom in and see a person waving or a bird flying. The interface shows the wide field of view all at once but 65 windows can be opened up showing zoom in views of different spots. They can see things as small as 6 inches like birds. They can make out people waving from the ground and what they are wearing. The software analyzes and tracks everything that is moving.
All of the images is archived from every UAV. The persistent monitoring means that any past time can be selected for a monitored area and what happened at that time can be played as if you were watching it live. The current system has 1.8 gigapixel video but DARPA has another project that will soon have 50 gigapixels of resolution and mass production will drive the cost to about $1000. 50 gigapixels would mean increasing resolution to make out 1 inch objects from 17500 feet or viewing a larger area at the 6 inch resolution. A live and historical feed of everything in Manhattan down to 1 inch resolution from one drone.
2. German scientists are seriously developing a laser based system of weed control in order to be more “environmentally friendly” than using chemical poisons. Laser armed Robots and drones cheap enough weed control of large scale agriculture and they will have artificial intelligence algorithms and high resolution cameras to be able to tell plants from weeds. They would have the goal of having this on a large scale for better “organic farming”. The laser system is currently being tested in a greenhouse. Drones or small robotic planes would fly over the fields.
3. The goal of the DARPA HELLADS (High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System) program is to develop a 150 kilowatt (kW) laser weapon system that is ten times smaller and lighter than current lasers of similar power, enabling integration onto tactical aircraft to defend against and defeat ground threats.
The project is scheduled to integrate one of the 150 kilowatt prototypes onto a fighter plane for in flight testing as early as 2014 (next year).
With a weight goal of less than five kilograms per kilowatt, and volume of three cubic meters for the laser system, HELLADS seeks to enable high-energy lasers to be integrated onto tactical aircraft, significantly increasing engagement ranges compared to ground-based systems.
The program has completed laboratory testing of a fundamental building block for HELLADS, a single laser module that successfully demonstrated the ability to achieve high power and beam quality from a significantly lighter and smaller laser. The program is now in the final development phase where a second laser module will be built and combined with the first module to generate 150 kW of power.
The HELLADS is expected to have a maximum weight of 750kg. This is light enough to install on a Predator drone.
4. Two days ago a memo describing the president’s legal justifications for drone attacks against U.S. citizens was obtained and published by NBC’s Michael Isikoff. The memo is a disturbing assertion of discretionary executive power that should concern and frighten all Americans. Unfortunately, the secretive use of drone attacks is one of the few areas of bi-partisan consensus in this highly divisive town, and the public still seems to resoundingly support current counter-terrorism policies.
The memo gives broad legal boundaries on the use of drones. There are virtually no actual restrictions.
SOURCES – Wikipedia, DARPA, Youtube, PBS Nova, Cato, MSNBC, Leibniz Universität Hannover and Laser Zentrum Hannover, Deutsche Welle