back to article Beware the terrorist drones! For they are coming! Pass new laws!

A UK research group has warned that commercial drones represent a terrorist threat and new laws should limit what payload they can carry. The Remote Control Project, run by the Oxford Research Group, also wants the government to fund the development of military-style lasers to shoot drones down and the creation of jamming and …

Re: Drones

And to quote from the PDF on that page:

"I also decided to modify the fuselage, turning it into the 'Dambusters' version with the ability to hold, rotate and drop an EPP bouncing bomb."

As that was January 2003, this technology has been around for far longer than anyone suspected. Where were our security services?

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Re: Drones

Expanded Parallel Port bouncing bombs? - Where can I get one? I have an Osbourne Luggable I could deploy as a controller!

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"have drones automatically shut down if they approach such a space"

And have anyone who lives nearby subject to a rain of drones falling out of the sky.

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I, for one, would love to see the ring of dead and broken drones at the exclusion limit around some prime target. It does of course then just become a matter of momentum. Sort of a real life version of angry birds crossed with ICBM targeting.

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Not really a new concept....

Being a crusty old geezer, I remember a Superman episode back in the B/W TV days that featured a bad guy blowing up buildings with RC model airplanes.

I predict zero deterent value from passing rules against using drones to do bad things.

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Black Helicopters

Don't mention the war!!!

I seem to remember that the Germans were able to rain "drones" (V1) on London without GPS or radio or even and sophisticated computing power. They weren't the most accurate or reliable but they would do the job. The fact that they were inaccurate probably made them scarier.

A friend of mine picked up a Pulse Jet engine that has 40+Lbs thrust that would be able to drive a reasonable size drone (model aircraft) for less than $100. A little work and you could add inertial guidance, a bit of experimentation and you can work out the fuel consumption and determine the range. A compass and map you can direct the drone to a target. Impossible to jam, difficult to shoot down, quick to setup and launch, readily available materials, easy to find working designs, relatively easy to build.

How do you legislate against these?

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Re: Don't mention the war!!!

I think London should seriously consider banning V1s

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Re: Don't mention the war!!!

I believe that some of the early V1s did have a simple receiver that enabled them to use a crude form of navigation by following a highly directional signal. Only about 25% of launched missiles reached their intended area targets, but what proportion of those were due to poor navigation I don't know.

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Re: Don't mention the war!!!

How do you legislate against these?

I'm pretty sure that's already going to be illegal. I have no idea what specific law applies, but I believe there is such a thing as "Conspiracy to cause explosions" which sounds like it would cover it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Don't mention the war!!!

Is there an offense of "Suspicion of Conspiracy to cause Explosions"?

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Re: Don't mention the war!!!

" but what proportion of those were due to poor navigation I don't know."

Not actually very many; the V-1 was surprisingly accurate within the aiming parameters specified. A British counter-intelligence operation meant that all the Abwehr agents in Britain had been turned and were reporting only carefully selected information to their German handlers. Emphasis was given to reporting only those V-1s which fell in NW London, giving the impression that the weapons were mostly overflying the target. The Germans therefore adjusted their aim, meaning many of the V-1s fell short of target. This was popular with Londoners, less so with the inhabitants of Kent, Surrey and Sussex,,,,

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Facepalm

Re: Don't mention the war!!!

"I think London should seriously consider banning V1s"

See, their mistake was failing to realize that they could have avoided dealing with any V1s entirely during WWII if only they legally outlawed them. Isn't that how it works...?

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Don't understand these things so I am going into default reaction mode:

Squeeeeaalllll hate hate hate squeaalllll.

ban ban ban.

I'm not interested in them so ban ban ban.

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Cat is out of the bag anyway.

Wonder how long will it be before we hear of the first mass attack by drone. Any shopping centre or sports event will be a ripe target.

Scary.

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What is the attack on a shopping centre that you're imagining?

Drones flying around inside it?

Ok but what would they be armed with and how would they be more effective than the good old, leave a bomb with a timer in a bin and walk away?

Blowing up the shopping centre completely?

You'd need a multi-million pound military drone with some seriously difficult to aquire weapons to manage that sort of fire power. And the result is no better than driving a lorry full of homemade explosive up to the building for less than 1/1000 the cost.

What is scary is your willingness to classify drones as "Scary" for unspecified reasons and therefore accept the Oxford Research Group's call that "Something must be done". Despite having read an article and many comments pointing out that drones aren't really a threat.

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"driving a lorry full of homemade explosive "

Exactly.

And many of the attacks lately have been done by people willing/eager to die for their 'cause'. How does a ban on drones (an imaginary threat) stop suicide bombers (a real threat)?

In the spirit of fellow commentards: We should ban suicide bombers. That'll show'em!

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Anonymous Coward

You'd need a multi

"You'd need a multi-million pound military drone with some seriously difficult to acquire weapons to manage that sort of fire power"

You can buy anything at the right price and terrorists are not constrained by budget cuts and oversight committees

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Anonymous Coward

10x illegal

It seems that the Governments response to everything now is to try and make it more illegal by passing new laws. I would be very very surprised if a drone carrying explosives in a controlled area isn't already breaking a whole host of laws so do we really need new ones?

The problem is that as technology advances it becomes easier and easier to just build something like a drone that sidesteps any law mandating GPS enforced no fly zones, radio jamming, etc etc. I'm sure a sufficiently determined terrorist could build such a drone today. GPS no fly zones are avoided by using a self rolled flight system. Radio jamming isn't really a great solution as Mr Terrorist would just take a cue from missile systems and build a self contained internal guidance system. Ground based lasers will be harder to avoid but I can't see us deploying weapon systems like that all over the place for a while.

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Re: 10x illegal

"Ground based lasers will be harder to avoid"

Use their weapons against them and deploy said drone with tinfoil armour? It's the ultimate anti-government armour cladding after all.

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Vic
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Re: 10x illegal

Mr Terrorist would just take a cue from missile systems and build a self contained internal guidance system.

6-axis positioning (3 gyros, 3 accelerometers). Available on eBay for £1.25 (they've gone up - used to be 99p).

VIc.

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M7S
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One way for governments not to worry about RPVs

might be to not ship them directly to "the enemy"

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35259429

(Yes, I know its apparently inert, but still a fun fact for today)

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Re: aircraft

While being against hyperbole, it is a thing now that some idiots regularly take to trying to blind pilots with lasers, and it's getting to the point where consumer gadgets in the hands of these same people might eventually cause the equivalent of a bird strike, at which point expect everyone to go nuts and the government to get what they want.

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Re: aircraft

it's getting to the point where consumer gadgets in the hands of these same people might eventually cause the equivalent of a bird strike

Which planes can take. Bird strikes are a thing we know happens. Not a lot of crashes because of bird strikes

at which point expect everyone to go nuts and the government to get what they want.

And here you nail the crux of the problem. People are idiots :(

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Re: aircraft

"Which planes can take. Bird strikes are a thing we know happens. Not a lot of crashes because of bird strikes"

Now make the bird out a metal and plastic and see what happens.

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Re: aircraft

My point isn't that an aircraft will be downed. I expect a modern engine to ingest a drone without causing the aircraft to crash.

My point is that such an event quickly gets people on board the side of a government hoping for sweeping new powers.

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Re: aircraft

My point isn't that an aircraft will be downed. I expect a modern engine to ingest a drone without causing the aircraft to crash.

My point is that such an event quickly gets people on board the side of a government hoping for sweeping new powers.

I agree completely. IIRC they test jet engines by firing frozen turkeys into them out of an air-cannon* I don't see any little commercial sized drone doing more damage than that. You've correctly identified the problem: People are idiots :(

*If that's not true, please don't correct me it'll shatter a hilarious mental image I've had for years!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: aircraft

such tests do occur, I recall one where they forgot to defrost the chicken they used - described as overkill when examining the result. No, it wasnt an engine being tested.

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Re: aircraft

Are frozen chickens a common component of airport fauna?

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I build, fly and crash RC helicopters and planes. This whole "drone" thing is just news hype.

As someone has said already RC is nothing new, there have been bigger and more capable models available for years.

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Boffin

average???

Uh, why is the average flight time and average range of "over 200 commercial drones" meaningful when determining whether a terrorist-piloted drone is a dangerous prospect? 200 commercial models is a very good sample size, great that they found out the parameters of all those models. But then they should look at the drones with the highest values of flight time and range and load, and determine which (if any) of them could be used in a terrorist attack.

The average isn't even relevant if one assumes a terrorist will just go out and buy a random one, since they might pick a model appropriate for their needs...

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Terrorism is easy...

...which is why I remain utterly unconvinced that it exists, at least in the form we're having blasted at us by the government all the time.

If there really were organized cells of secret agent grade terrorists out there - as opposed to a tiny handful of disaffected radicals with delusions of martyrdom - we'd be seeing hundreds of deaths a week, but as it stands large scale attacks like occurred in Paris last year are crazy, astonishingly rare.

Oh, and did those people use sophisticated technological solutions to kill people? No. They bought some cheap assault weapons and shot up some crowded places. That's trivial to do. Basically any idiot can do that, and even that involved actually getting hold of guns, which is at least moderately hard this side of the pond. Think how much damage you could do simply by deliberately driving a few cars off of motorway bridges into the traffic below. That's a guaranteed death toll - not to mention the economic damage done by closing the motorways - and all you need to pull that off is a copy of autotrader and 500 quid for a 15 year old banger.

Seriously, terrorism is easy. Given that we don't have bodies piling up in the streets practically daily, we clearly don't need more laws to protect ourselves from people who might do those sorts of things because either they don't exist, or the laws we have are already sufficient to catch them before they kill anyone the vast majority of the time.

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Coat

Featherweight armament for attacking meatbags

You could terrorize a crowd (in, say, a shopping mall) with a quadcopter with sharpened metal rotor blades, with face detection software on the onboard computer, and programming it to aim just below the face, i.e. go for the throat. It would weigh little more than a standard one, and look the same except when examined very close up with the motors off.

Not too hard to defeat by people who're not panicking, but that won't always apply.

So a weaponized drone isn't going to be that easy to distinguish. Hope that doesn't encourage them to ban them all, though.

Mine's the kevlar hoodie with steel mesh balaclava, thanks.

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Happy

Re: Featherweight armament for attacking meatbags

Where do you get that hoodie? I want one..

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Re: Featherweight armament for attacking meatbags

We need a constitutional amendment for the right to bear badminton rackets and a Nation Racket Association to defend our freedom to defend ourselves from small model helicopters.

Obviously following a series of tragic incidents in schools squash rackets will be banned

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Anonymous Coward

invest in the development of military-style lasers and drone-tracking systems

and look, by pure coincidence, there's this company with a range of military-style lasers and drone-tracking systems willing to meet the challange....

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Terrorists have to use drones because they aren't skilled enough to fly proper RC planes or helicopters which have been around for many years and never to my knowledge been use for terrorism!!

Fortunately im a skilled RC-heli pilot so be afraid if i ever decide to turn terrorist!!

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Childcatcher

Limited window for legislation

At the moment they're sufficiently niche for most people not to care about restrictions, so now is the time to introduce those restrictions, as far as the government's concerned.

At the moment, it's a case of 'A drone might fall on you - ban them.'

Eventually it'll be 'A drone might fall on you - wear a helmet.'

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Aircraft

birdstrikes do actually cause aircraft accidents - see this for an example:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_Airways_Flight_1549

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Model aircraft capable of carrying a lot of explosives, GPS, and cameras have been available for a long time. You can trust politicians to faff on new technology, ignoring the fact that someone could have flown a model jet into parliament with a bunch of high explosives on board 20 years ago.

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