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back to article Animal Liberation drone surveillance plan draws fire

Animal Liberation Australia has acquired a drone and plans to fly over farms and film animal cruelty. Mark Pearson, Animal Liberation's executive director, told The Reg concerned members of the public told him about drones and their potential application capturing aerial surveillance of mistreated animals. Pearson said he put …

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FAIL

"Nothing to hide, nothing to fear"

I want to set up 24h surveillance in this guys living room. I don't see why he should protest, as long as he has nothing to hide.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear"

Or...

Not committing any crimes in the open air with nothing to hide the fact that you're doing them, nothing to fear?

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Ossie or Ozzie?

Which one is it?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear"

I would like someone to set up 24hr surveilance of the inside of this guy's back passage. With a BetaCam SP.

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Facepalm

Re: "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear"

In his living room? Seriously? How old are you? He may have plenty he wishes to hide but most of it is probably not illegal - when you grow up you might learn about some of it.

On the other hand if a farmer wants to hide the way he treats animals it is almost certainly because what he is doing is illegal.

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Meh

Re: "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear"

The Oz answer to the Animal Rights surveillance drone....

A rifle....

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Re: Ossie or Ozzie?

"Aussie" or "Ozzie", never "Ossie".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ossie or Ozzie?

Aussie. (I am Australian.).

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Devil

Re: Ossie or Ozzie?

Said with a Meriken accent, it's "Arsie". (Ahs-zee)

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Re: Ossie or Ozzie?

> Aussie. (I am Australian.).

I think the question was about pronunciation.

It never fails to grate here in Canada when I hear the USian pronunciation of "orsey", especially on ads for shampoo.

It just sounds weird, and is of course wrong as any fule no.

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Mid Air Collision?

What happens when one of the helicopters the Australians use for mustering cattle collides with this drone? I take it Mr Pearson has thought about that?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mid Air Collision?

I would imagine that the drones would be regulated by the Auzzie equivalent of the CAA, so they'd need to advise that they'd be operating in a particular area and a crash investigation would be made to apportion blame/make sure it didn't happen again, were there any collision.

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Re: Mid Air Collision?

You'd hope that the drones would be operating under CASA, but as the guy in charge seems a bit vague over whether they'd be operating as a commercial entity or as a toy I'm not convinced. I hope they consider this properly befor it accidentally goes through the tail rotor of an R-22...

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Silver badge

Re: Mid Air Collision?

I would suspect that the downdraft of a real helicopter would blow the over-sized toy out of the air... Unless the big chopper happened to fly *under* the toy chopper... Then that could get messy.

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Re: Mid Air Collision?

I've been told that providence has supplied Australia with at least one large, stupid, clumsy species of bird that, presumably, Australian helicopter owners know to be wary of. This drone plan (presumably using cell phone communication) is just another similar aerial obstacle. As for it being shot down, I dare say that a helium airbag device will be adequate for a rescue, and if it does take out a farmer's chopper, then, fair play, I think they can count that as a win. It's unlikely that there would be evidence except for the drone's own video and maybe its cell phone records.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mid Air Collision?

Emus can't fly.

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Re: Mid Air Collision?

Do emus know they can't fly? Well, the story I was told may be wrong, but it concerned birds that feed on roadkill, then take off when a truck comes, but they can't get very high and are liable to fly straight at the windscreen and smash through it, which isn't good for anyone concerned. But my memory also has the word "galah" attached to it, but it doesn't look like the kind of bird that would do that - although it doesn't do to judge by looks.

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Re: Mid Air Collision?

I believe that's the Wedge Tailed Eagle that feeds on roadkill then gets hit by trucks. It's less to do with stupidity, and more to do with being a large raptor with a full stomach and not being able to move fast enough.

Galahs really aren't very big, and not particularly carniverous. Although they are just about stupid enough to sit in the middle of the road and get run over.

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Stop

This Drone

If it's really as hard to see/hear as they suggest, they will probably be banned or restricted as stealthy surveillance equipment. If it's covert capabilities were exaggerated and it's actually fairly visible then we're back to the farmers shotgunning them down.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This Drone

I can't imagine that a farmer shooting down an aircraft (which is filming him) and is presumably legal and operating under the local air flight regulator's Ts & Cs would be a particularly good idea.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This Drone

This will be tech warfare all over again. The drone films downwards, so another drone flying higher dropping a few chains in the propellors will not be an easy one to prove...

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Re: This Drone

I think the legality of civilian aerial surveillance has yet to be tested, and I'm just guessing but I doubt it would stop a number of farmers anyway.

Being observed on private land by specialist equipment will piss them off whether it is declared lawful or not. Unless the drone has multiple cameras it can't see everywhere - the smart farmers will just down it from behind.

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Boffin

Re: AC Re: This Drone

"I can't imagine that a farmer shooting down an aircraft (which is filming him)....." Not meant many Aussies? I can easily see some irate Oz farmer blasting it with his shotgun and then blithely claiming in court "Honest, yer Honour, I thought it was a crow, and it wasn't until after I'd shot the blasted thing down I realised it was a kid's toy." And as to it filming him, it will be the old view-through-a-straw problem.

IMHO, I think the ALA mutters are just announcing this for the publicity and to annoy farmers, they still have to drive out to the farms to get within range and it will be pretty easy for farmers to do them for trespass when they do enter the farm property.

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Coat

Re: This Drone

In other news, sales of high-powered green laser pointers are soaring in Australian cattle territories. Cattlemen claim that they're a necessary tool to deter clouds of hard-to-see blowflies, by burning out their optical sensors...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This Drone

Legal or not, I'd imagine that it'd be hard to accept the aerial photography done by Google, MS, Apple, all other agencies who do it and then object to the aerial photography which shows you committing crime.

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Linux

Re: This Drone

Why shouldn't the farmer shoot at trespasser? It doesn't matter if the perpetrator is on the ground, in the skies, or in some sort of tunneling machine.

This sort of "you peasants have no rights" attitude might be fine for the old world.

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WTF?

Re: This Drone

UAV's are governed by some strict rules, CASR 101.F.1 applies as this is not a sporting use of a UAV.

They are likely to breach CASR 101.250 if they fly it above 400ft AGL, and CASR 101.245 if they close to within 30 meters of a person not directly involved in the operation of the UAV. If the Fyling Inspector deems the conduct to be hazardous under CASR 101.055 then they can kiss good bye to twice the cost of their UAV at least. Also possibly run agains 101.280 all of which strict liability applies to the offender.

The UAV in question would be defined as a Small UAV for the purposes of the regulations.

Well if I was a farmer, shooting crows would be a new occupation, pity if the UAV got hit along the way.

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Thumb Up

Re: This Drone

Mechanical failure would be interesting however. They'd have to trespass if the drone went down or the farmer has a shiny new toy.

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Joke

Re: This Drone

"shooting crows would be a new occupation"

Nope. Merely a new technology adaptation of an old one - stoning the crows :-)

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FAIL

"he expects will see weapons remain holstered"

Maybe the hand guns will be as they would be pants for shooting drone. A nice semi auto 12 bore with 1 in the breech and 8 in the extended magazine would be just ripper taking little drones out. Very little property damage to.

Mines the one with the no 6 birdshot

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Re: "he expects will see weapons remain holstered"

And as these drones are small enough that the Animal Lib folk believe they can't be seen, well, the farm boys can't be blamed if they're merely cracking off a few rounds on their private land and accidentally shoot down the robo-snooper. Not being an expert on Australian gun law, I guess that depends how liberal they are.

I wonder what RF jamming tech would do to one of these drones. Probably stick it into a safe-mode hover until it crashes? Or perhaps an automated landing? Either way, probably on the private land it's spying on.....

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Black Helicopters

Not Only But Also

I'm not against some close inspection of the food chain, but not just for animal cruelty reasons. I'd like someone to spot the exact moment a horse turns into a cow or when a pollack turns into a cod. However, I'm not sure a group of Aussie animal liberationists with a drone will be enough for this. I think we might need an All Seeing Eye of Google.

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Range?

If I remember correctly, the radio control range of those little thingies (which look pretty cool) is about 250m - ( or 500m with the extra cost range extender) - so he's going to have to be pretty darn close to the incident to take the piccies, and how realistic is that given that the size of sheep and cattle stations in Oz tends to be measured in deci-Wales rather than acres?

If things turn nasty he may find it's not the drone they're taking potshots at.

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Gold badge

Re: Range?

If I remember correctly, the radio control range of those little thingies (which look pretty cool) is about 250m - ( or 500m with the extra cost range extender)

In other words, any decent jammer will take the thing down without any visible evidence, thus providing the Shaggy defence ("it wasn't me").

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Big Brother

Re: Range?

For this sort of thing the drone will almost certainly have an auto-pilot (eg ArduCopter) that will let it follow a pre-programmed course. It's more likely to be the limited flight time (10-15 minutes) of a hexacopter will restrict them. There's a reason that entrants to http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/10/07/uav_challenge_canberra_win/ tend to have fixed wings instead of rotary.

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Re: Range?

250m? Peanuts, I have some Texas Instruments RF transceivers that are solid at up to 1.7km and I managed to get talking to each other at 3.4km with the standard whip antenna, throw in some directional antennas and the signal becomes much stronger/reliable, change to an amplified RF transceiver and you're looking at 10s of kilometers.

Besides a decent UAV will have GPS capabilities so if it loses contact with the operator it goes into default 'fly-home' mode, or it goes on a pre-planned GPS navigated route meaning farmers would need some seriously powerful (and most likely illegal) GPS jamming equipment to electronically stop them.

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Re: Range?

No, not powerful at all, just equal power & closer will do the trick. Ask anyone who has ever done R/C.

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FAIL

Re: Range?

I'm not sure our non-australian friends have any concept of just how vast and far from anywhere these farms are.

"First star to the left and straight on till morning" is a useful set of directions out there.

PR stunt press-release.

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Stop

Re: Range?

Excuse me, but 1.7km or 3.4km or even 10s of km will barely get you to the gate of the house paddock. Try a lot more to get to the mailbox.

Check the scenario:

ALA: Excuse me suspect animal abuser, I'd like to come onto your vast property with my drone aircraft to film your animal treatment.

Owner (more likely Manager) And what do you plan to do with that film?

ALA Oh, probably drag you into court, suspend your export licence and kill your business, OK?

As the old song put it:

"Listen mate, there's only one place you haven't been, and you don't need my help to get there!"

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Bang! ...

It was coming right at me!

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"shoot the drone out of the sky"

He's obviously not seen birdshot in action fired from a shotgun. If you can hit a clay pigeon or a bird at 20 metres, you should be able to do enough damage to bring one of these 'copters down, which is within the range of most shotguns.

And if they tried to retrieve it, that would be trespass.

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Good on 'em

The way Australian cattle farmers treat livestock is pretty despicable. Animals are moved on journeys that often exceed 1000km or more in crowded cattle trucks to a coastal port. They are then exported by ship to places such as Indonesia and the Middle East where they have their throats slashed while still alive by the usual Halal brutality

If the farmers had any concern for animal welfare (and breeding cattle for killing excludes them from that category) they would at least have local abattoirs and not subject the animals to weeks of poor travelling conditions before an unpleasant death. It's barbaric.

They may whine about privacy invasion by drone but I've never yet heard a farmer complain about Australia's proposed data retention and monitoring.

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Re: Good on 'em

" where they have their throats slashed while still alive by the usual Halal brutality"

Am I allowed to mention Kosher without fear of being called 'anti-Semitic'?

Anyway -- usually they are stunned before having their throats cut in a normal abattoir, though they are also usually alive.

Proper Kosher/Halal kills the animal possible faster than the usual meat factory method.

Kosher (dunno about Halal) has to use sharp knives without any nicks on the blade.

Nope, bugger all about Jehovah (did he say Jehovah?!) it's all about not contaminating the meat in a hot climate -- people die.

Let's all go back to using a pole axe instead - it's traditional innit?

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Holmes

Re: Good on 'em

obviously you have not met any farmers, or more likely, been wound up at the pub. Farmers care about their stock for reasons of rational self interst. Contented stock are more profitable. Have you had a look at the old stock routes ? Muranji for instance. A long, dry way to go to slaughter. There are rules about food and water stops for cattle road trains.

As for animal liberationists, one has to wonder how much of their attitudes are derived from romances about cartoon Bambis. Domesticated big animals have longer healthier lives than most wild life. The cases of cruelty locally were filmed without drones, except perhaps the organics carrying hidden cameras. One wonders if libbers will object to drones following them when they plan their activities

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Re: Good on 'em

WTF? Breeding cattle for slaughter in no way excludes people from caring about their animals' welfare. You ruined a good point about transportation by showing your bigotry.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good on 'em

Yes, it turns out that when you have fomalised religious ceremonies for the killing of animals, there is a damn site more respect for the welfare animal that is to be eaten. It may appear brutal, and also paradoxical, but halal/kosher killings appear to take the animal's welfare more seriously than normal abattoirs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good on 'em

Can confirm Halal slaughter requires a sharp knife (you call that a knife, this is a knife! - sorry obligatory croc dundee reference).

Also requires that other animals being slaughtered are not within sight of those getting slaughtered to prevent distress to the animal.

I think there was a study carried out by Hannover University in Germany in the 70s that showed that Halal (and therefore Kosher) slaughtering methods actually caused less pain to the animal (presumably based on brain activity) compared to the captive bolt method.

The only thing is it does not LOOK more pain free - and in this day and age that's all that matters.

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Re: Good on 'em

I keep my own animals - I'd love to slaughter them at home rather than transport them to an abattoir but in the UK they have decided I cant do that and sell the meat - nothing to do with the EU just rules for big businesses benefit here.

The abattoir smells - that seem to upset the animals on their arrival. As for the killing the electric stunning seems to knock them out more than adequately, as does the captive bolt before bleeding and the abattoir I go to separates the animals so they dont get too distressed- you dont want jumpy animals when your waving a set of electric tongs or a pistol.

As for a sharp knife - sorry but that really hurts the animal - and is not necessary for halal or kosher meat. They both require the animal to be bled completely and being concious has nothing to do with it.

Check up on reports of people communicating with severed heads at executions if you dont believe me.

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Re: Good on 'em

A long time ago in a different lifetime I spent a few interesting months working in an abattoir. While I didn't witness or perform Kosher or HalAl slaughter, I do know from my experience on the killing floor that if it wasn't quick, efficient and painless then the practice wouldn't have survived for several thousand years. Any killing method that is neither quick, efficient nor painless tends to have an inconveniently high rate of failure which, when you're killing a cow, can quickly result in 3/4 of a ton of Very Pissed Off Indeed. This a sufficiently sub-optimal result to ruin a whole day. There has been a lot of work done on de-stressing animals prior to slaughter not only for the sake of the animals, but because it makes slaughtering much more efficient. I recommend a quick google on Temple Grandin, she's the go-to-girl for cattle management.

Sheep are less of a problem, but once you're killing for the wider population then pigs can be a nightmare. Get them stressed and you've got to get them calmed down again and flush the adrenaline from their bloodstream otherwise the meat tastes awful.

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