back to article Disaster-gawping cam drones to be blasted out of the sky in California

California politicians want emergency services to knock interfering drones out of the sky without fear of repercussion – after a gang of flying gizmos got in the way of firefighters tackling a terrifying blaze. Last Friday, a forest fire roared across Interstate 15 near Cajon Pass in southern California, forcing motorists to …

  1. seacook

    Nail the bastards

    Simple solution if idiots flying drones want to interfere with emergency operations; use the drones as a replacement for clay pigeons. Shotgun or solid ammunition - enforcers choice. Where do I sign up?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Nail the bastards

      And if they find the operator.. I suggest dropping them on the next fire. Am I over-reacting? I don't think so, Darwin's Law should be helped along sometimes when dealing with idiots.

    2. Notas Badoff
      Holmes

      Re: Nail the bastards part 2

      There'll be enough pieces to get fingerprints, yes? We get your drone, we get your fingerprints, we get you. Got it?

      1. g e

        Re: Nail the bastards part 2

        Agreed, natch.

        Until maybe a bystander needs a Canon 700D prising out of their skull, perhaps, from a taken-out drone?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Nail the bastards part 2

          "Until maybe a bystander needs a Canon 700D prising out of their skull, perhaps, from a taken-out drone?"

          And just how high up is it still in range for clay pigeon shooting anyway? The main problem seems to be the effect drones have on emergency services aircraft, which are not likely to be flying below 500'.

          I'm certainly NOT defending drone operators, but I wonder just how emergency services are going to damage or down them safely anyway. Can anyone enlighten me?

          1. Pookietoo

            Re: the effect drones have on emergency services aircraft

            Equip the aircraft with little robot gun turrets - job's a good 'un. :-)

  2. Franklin

    They already do this with cars. An old friend of mine who's a firefighter has plenty of stories about people who park their cars in front of fire hydrants. Firefighters will ram them out of the way with their trucks (or, in one case where she responded to a fire and there was no way to clear a BMW from in front of a hydrant) simply smash the windows and run the hoses right through the car.

    1. Ian 55

      Forget cars

      In the UK, if the fire brigade want to demolish your house - to create a fire-break, say, or just because it's in the way - they can just do it.

      1. Roq D. Kasba

        Re: Forget cars

        I guess that's true. Vehicles are specifically mentioned, as is forcing entry (section 44), but

        '44(1) An employee of a fire and rescue authority who is authorised

        in writing by the authority for the purposes of this section may do

        anything he reasonably believes to be necessary.

        (a) if he reasonably believes a fire to have broken out or to be about to

        break out, for the purpose of extinguishing or preventing the fire or

        protecting life or property;'

        isn't a specific dispensation for repercussions if they knock down a house - although I can imagine it is likely to swing that way in court.

  3. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Precedent exists

    ... for emergency responders to do damage as required to complete their mission. Park in front of a fire hydrant and they'll break your car windows and run the hoses straight through it.

    1. Grikath Silver badge

      Re: Precedent exists

      I can see the judge raising an eyebrow, Vetinary style, if an idiot like that does sue..

      "Yes, sir, you do indeed have a right to sue for damages, and the footage you have shown us does indeed clearly show the county sherriff disabling your drone with a firearm. We will assume this case proven and move on to the next issue: Interfering during a declared emergency, endangering emergency personnel during said emergency by your actions, the cause of preventable collateral damage during said emergency, and assorted mopery and dopery, for which you have kindly provided us with evidence..."

      1. willi0000000

        Re: Precedent exists

        then . . . the scorpion pit.

        [ or fix the Post Office ]

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Precedent exists

        A decapita can be arranged. And should be arranged.

    2. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Precedent exists

      Precedent exists

      ... for emergency responders to do damage as required to complete their mission. Park in front of a fire hydrant and they'll break your car windows and run the hoses straight through it.

      Yes, I saw "Backdraft" too.

      1. John Gamble

        Re: Precedent exists

        And "Quick Change" ... are you saying this only happens in movies?

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Precedent exists

      "break your car windows and run the hoses straight through it."

      Although I understand the sentiment and that in the US fire hydrants are protected areas in terms of parking, but does it really take so much effort to attach the hose and go around the car? Is that extra few feet of hose really that vital? Or do US fire hydrants only have a port on the kerb facing side? I really do want to know because I'm thinking the time it takes to smash a cars windows and run the hose through is just as, if not more, time consuming than just running the hose around the car.

      1. John Gamble

        Re: Precedent exists

        "...but does it really take so much effort to attach the hose and go around the car?"

        It wouldn't have taken much research to answer your own question. Yes.

        This isn't a garden hose, its a very heavy hose with bulky (and heavy in their own right) metal attachments at each end, which is about to be straightened out (and made heavier) by the pressure of hundreds of gallons of water.

        Plus, its a fire. Every second counts. The straight line is faster than threading a hose around a blockage.

        Beyond that, this is something that every child in a country with fire hydrants has known since they were five years old. At this point, if you're stupid enough to block a fire hydrant, at the very least you deserve the ticket -- car damage is just a bonus.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Precedent exists

          Whenever I've seen fire hoses in action, they still curve around objects and are flexible enough for the firefighters to move them around and aim them. They don't appear to suddenly go rigid. Maybe US hoses are made of different materials from UK hoses.

          As already mentioned in my OP, how long does it take to thread a "bulky" hose with "metal attachments" through a cars broken windows compared with simply running it around the obstruction?

          Fire hydrants in the UK are very different to the form the US uses. Ours are underground, usually under the pavement, not the road, and the fire crews open the hatch in the ground and fit a stand-pipe arrangement. The location of the access is marked by a distinctive sign on a nearby wall indicating how far from the sign the hatch is and the depth of the valve. There are no laws about parking near these signs or access hatches.

          You seem to be assuming I have the same background as yourself and should know why the US is different to the UK.

          1. x 7 Silver badge

            Re: Precedent exists

            " are flexible enough for the firefighters to move them around and aim them. "

            Sorry mate but you haven't got a clue have you. Once a fire hose is up to pressure its damned near impossible to move unless you've had the correct training. They go rigid - and I mean RIGID. You can also get some weird effects as well - if you don't grab the nozzle end properly the things will start whipping and writhing around like mad rigid snakes - and can easily cause serious damage to bodies. You literally have to brace your entire bodyweight against the power of the hose.

          2. John Gamble

            Re: Precedent exists

            "You seem to be assuming I have the same background as yourself and should know why the US is different to the UK."

            Erm, I did link to the Wikipedia article on fire hydrants, so... maybe not.

            Furthermore, I question whether there are no laws about parking. It does appear to be an issue:

            Obstructing a fire hydrant is an offence and can carry a fine if convicted. Please remember to park considerately and away from any adjacent hydrants.

            I don't know what the consequences of inconsiderate parking may be, but at the very least you might get a scratch in London.

  4. Nanners

    Not drones

    These are remotely controlled vehicles (in this case helicopters), Drones are autonomous.

    1. Stevie Silver badge

      Re: Not drones

      Pfft. Hacker/Cracker.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not drones

      drones are just unmanned. they include remotely piloted vehicles

  5. thx1138v2

    Unintended consequences

    So I guess if one of those 55 Lb. drones falls from 1500 Ft. and smashes me, my car, or my house it will just be a statistic. And, um, well, err, what about the firefighters and their trucks and equipment on the ground?

    Politicians are mostly blooming idiots.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Unintended consequences

      How is that any difference from the fact that a firetruck speeding to the scene crashes into a car and injures or kills people once in a while? More lives will be saved by clearing the sky of drones so emergency responders can do their thing unimpeded than the one unlucky person that may die per decade from one falling on their head. If it is falls on your house or car, well, that's what insurance is for.

    2. Boothy

      Re: Unintended consequences - Darwin Award more like

      @ thx1138v2

      If it was shot down by the emergency services, it would mean it had to be impeding those emergency services from doing their job. i.e. trying to put a fire out.

      Anything underneath the drone would likely already be damaged, or potentially about to be if the fire spread further.

      If you were stood underneath said drone, it must mean you were also in the middle of the declared emergency location, and so should have evacuated already.

      If you were still there, long enough for some neighbour or local TV crew, to dig out their drone, get to the location, get it airborne, and fly it over the declared emergency area. Then you'd have to be a bit of an idiot, and this would mean that you too were likely also in the way of those same emergency services personal, trying to do their job.

      If you did get killed by a falling drone in this circumstance, to me that's just another nomination for a Darwin award, as you shouldn't have been there in the first place!

    3. Richard Boyce

      Re: Unintended consequences

      So have you considered running for office?

    4. Andrew Moore Silver badge

      Re: Unintended consequences

      There is a maximum weight that an unlicensed drone can be- 55lbs is way too heavy.

    5. Mark 85 Silver badge

      @thx1138v2 -- Re: Unintended consequences

      Ok...you made your point. Now let's see where your priorities really are.... ready....

      You've fallen into a ravine. There's a fire coming in your direction and it's about 1 mile away. Fire crews and rescue crews can't get to you with a rescue chopper or even suppress the fire because there's one or two of these things hovering around the ravine. Do they:

      a) Think of the poor bystanders who are probably in the way anyhow? Think of the property? Thus, they don't knock the drone out of the air. Result: you die.

      or....

      b) Knock the thing out of the air and save your sorry ass....????

      I'm betting you and anyone else who thinks knocking a drone out of the air in an emergency is a bad thing will still go for b) because in this case, you're (collectively) a bunch of self-centered buttheads.

      Downvote away... as someone who has been there and understands risk and sacrifice for the greater good, I'll take the downvote hit.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: @thx1138v2 -- Unintended consequences

        "You've fallen into a ravine. There's a fire coming in your direction and it's about 1 mile away. Fire crews and rescue crews can't get to you with a rescue chopper or even suppress the fire because there's one or two of these things hovering around the ravine."

        Did Lassie or Skippy tell you all that?

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: @thx1138v2 -- Unintended consequences

          Rin-Tin-Tin.

  6. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Law not a problem

    So how do you take down drones? Ram them over with an aircraft so heavily loaded that it's barely airborne? No. Firing a shotgun over a evacuees and teams of firefighters? No. Jamming radios? No. Maybe starch fiber grenades to tangle small propellers?

    1. Old Used Programmer

      Re: Law not a problem

      How about shotgun beanbag ammo as used for crowd control? or develop a version of chain shot tht was used to take out rigging when fired from a smooth bore cannon (could be a nylon mesh or balls with nylon cords between them)?

    2. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Law not a problem

      So how do you take down drones?

      Actually, there is at least one company selling a device designed to net drones out of the air, but if they are low enough to interfere with firefighters, then my guess would be with a blast from a fire hose. That is unless they are equipped to fire back.

      1. Boothy

        Re: Law not a problem

        I think the main issue here is the drones flying in the way of the firefighters, i.e. their aircraft/helo can't drop the water, without risking taking out the drone at the same time.

        This is more about making sure the fire-fighters don't get prosecuted for an inadvertent drone take-down, than someone purposely trying to take one out with a gun, other diver etc.

  7. jake Silver badge

    We have operating jamming tech.

    The .fed won't let us deploy it. Yet. It'll happen if the fuckheads continue putting highly trained pilots already in a dangerous situation into worse danger ... all for what? 15 minutes of fame on the fucking IntraWebTubes?

    WOW! What heros. In their own mind, maybe ... to the rest of us? Fuckheads, every single one of them.

    jake --retired VFD

  8. Southern L.A. 1

    Good! let them fly in my airspace....just be a pile of junk when I finish......

  9. Likkie

    Good!

    I hope this gets up!

  10. MrDamage

    Don't change the legislation

    As that will just get the owners of the drones to not fess up over their actions.

    Let them try and launch a lawsuit against whomever shot it down, and once they have proclaimed their ownership and responsibility of said drone, nail them with the various criminal acts that already exist to deal with these twatnozzles.

    Add insult to injury: Charge them for the amount of rounds that were required to bring the drone down as well. At usual govt contractor markup prices of course.

  11. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

    What about the firehose option?

    It occurs to me that a high-pressure hose is more aim-able than dropping water, and can be used without manoeuvring above the drone. Also safer than firearms, and I imagine the effective range is at least as good as a shotgun. Not to mention that it is normal equipment for firefighters, the ammunition does not explode when heated and there is plausible deniability in use.

    1. Diogenes

      Re: What about the firehose option?

      Not feasible in all situations, bombers are used precisely because you can't get a standard issue fire truck everywhere.

      1. Grikath Silver badge

        Re: What about the firehose option?

        firehoses get a decent distance, but usually not enough to take the things out.

        A decent rifle should get the job done easily enough though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What about the firehose option?

          A decent rifle should get the job done easily enough though.

          Really? Have you done any shooting? Why do you think that shotguns are used exclusively for birds on the wing, clays etc.?

        2. fruitoftheloon
          Stop

          @Grikath Re: What about the firehose option?

          Grikath,

          Damn, I wish I had thought of that!!!

          I wish I was strong and accurate enough to be able to lob a 7.62 (or similar) up at a moving target...

          May I suggest you pop along to your local target (paper) shooting club for a complimentary lesson, btw the pipe with a hole in it should (ideally) be pointed away from you!

          Have fun!

          Jay

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Attack mode?

    Seed all such devices with a 'fly-home-mode", only available to, and activated by, Emergency Services personnel.

    Send the device screaming towards the controller.

    </dream>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Attack mode?

      Although I don't agree with the "screaming" tone the RTH idea is one that occurred to me, return to home triggered by a special code would be safer that most other options. These devices are above people and places so any return to home should be in a swift and controlled manner, it would also allow "advice" to be given to the "grateful" owner.

      Shooting holes in lipo batteries above fire prone areas seems somewhat flawed to me.

      I do concede we probably need someone's expensive drone taken out of the sky by a concerned citizen and the resulting news story (pub dicussion) for some people to get the idea it may not be a good idea to fly some places.

    2. Pookietoo

      Re: "fly-home-mode"

      How smart are these things? Much easier anyway to implement a "descend and shut down mode".

  13. knightred
    Black Helicopters

    Actually we should be careful about this

    Look, it's well and nice to say shoot them down, but we need to know what the hell will constitute an "emergency situation". Say filming the police during a demonstration? This is the sort of law that would need really careful wording, but we all know it'll be worded such that "only a terrorist would video emergency services or police response to make their attack plans!". I'm all for stopping people getting in the way or endangering other lives through nonsense, but I think we need to consider seriously hastily crafted and loosely worded legislation.

    Also, I see no reason they can't shoot shotguns, I mean you'd want to use a number 6 bird load. All you'd be aiming to damage are the propellers, they seem fairly fragile and numerous. Personally, while waterfowl hunting I've been "peppered" with returning pellets from my own shot, it's like a medium rain at the hardest.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      We should, but for now it is simple

      The issue at hand is firefighting and interfering with rescue operations.

      A demonstration does not come anywhere near these terms and there is no way to confuse the two.

      Now, it may be that those hovertoys are used in watching a demonstration as well. It may happen that things get out of hand, people start getting unruly, cops start getting shovy and everything goes suddenly very wrong with people running and screaming, cops beating and shooting, and one or more of them deciding that the toys have nothing to do there and start blasting them out of the sky - if they can.

      In such a situation the fallout will be nasty anyway, and the toy owners will most likely have TV video to back up their declarations that the police were shooting their property willy-nilly out of the sky. Freedom of speech and all that jazz. I'm pretty sure that a judge will declare that the hoverthingies should not be shot out and the police will have to pay reparations to the toy owners.

      One situation is a risk to life and one simply cannot accept that rescue people be stalled or impeded in their honorable job by some nitwit that really wants something spectacular on his feed.

      The other situation is a social event that is already largely covered by existing laws and bringing hovertoys (I just can't bring myself to call them drones) into the mix doesn't really change anything significantly.

      That said, I am not a lawyer, much less an American one, so I may be wrong. We shall see in the long run.

      1. Blitheringeejit
        Big Brother

        Re: We should, but for now it is simple

        The issue at hand is firefighting and interfering with rescue operations. A demonstration does not come anywhere near these terms and there is no way to confuse the two.

        You've clearly not been following how police powers and public order legislation has been used in the UK in recent years. Powers granted to public officials under anti-terrorist legislation are routinely used to monitor individuals suspected of (among many other trivial offences) fly-tipping or failing to clear up after their dog.

        Not that I'm against this, you understand - I think inconsiderate dog-owners should be shipped off to Gitmo without trial - but the point remains that "to confuse the two" is extremely easy if you're suitably empowered at your own discretion, and it serves your purpose to do so.

        And of course the areas of real concern are where this gets entangled with freedom of speech or assembly. In London at least, the situation with regard to the use of discretionary police powers is very scary, and the local force is considered by many who live there to be out of control.

        Note - I'm not anti-police either, I live in a rural part of England well away from London, and the police here are absolutely brilliant. But the Met (the London force) scares the crap out of me.

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: We should, but for now it is simple

          > You've clearly not been following how police powers and public order legislation has been used in the UK in recent years.

          Indeed, and I was thinking this as I read through the earlier comments.

          The standard technique used by all governments seems to be "find something everyone agrees is bad, pick a situation, legislate for that - but carefully word the legislation to cover a shed load more than it's claimed. In this case, who could possibly argue against letting the firefighters do their jobs ? So it's easy to push through the legislation as "it's clearly needed and no-one can argue against it".

          But then what ? All it needs is for the officer in charge to declare <whatever it is> and he then gets free reign to abuse the legislation to attack perfectly reasonable and otherwise legal (for example) protest. Or there's examples like the sex offences laws (think of the childrun) used to convict someone for taking a pee in some bushes or the father who lightly slapped his teenage daughter (deservedly so by her own admission).

          It does seem that there are already laws in place that would allow the emergency cervices to deal with these remote controlled devices. There is no need to use the event to pass what would otherwise be quite contentious laws.

          1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

            I agree with both of you

            There is ample matter to demonstrate that the government is clearly more interested in passing new laws whether or not they are redundant or actually contrary to public interest, for the goal of making themselves look like they're "doing something".

            And existing laws which were made for a specific purpose have been repeatedly abused in order to enforce entirely different purposes (journalist coming back from interviewing Snowdon detained under terrorist laws, really ? And those people still have a job ?).

            Nonetheless, when discussing Law, one must objectively assess what the law says, not how it will be misinterpreted. Misinterpretation of the Law should be an affair for judges and sentences passed on those who abuse it.

            I am convinced that we have way too many laws, and this situation serves only to muddy the waters and provide opportunities for crooked politicians. We need to simplify our Civil and Criminal code to more direct terms, as in If You Have Harmed Someone's Well-Being, You Must Restore It.

            But of course, simplification will only be the delight of the cunning and manipulative. And there is no more cunning and manipulative than a successful politician.

            What is the answer ? Better education that promotes critical thinking. But no sane government wants that.

            1. x 7 Silver badge

              Re: I agree with both of you

              "What is the answer ? Better education that promotes critical thinking"

              Bollocks

              The average redneck (or use your own country's equivalent term) is thick and self-centred, and no amount of education will ever change that. The average twat who who is causing these problems will never respond to reason or education - only to pain and legal threats

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Black Helicopters

            Re: We should, but for now it is simple

            "The standard technique used by all governments seems to be "find something everyone agrees is bad, pick a situation, legislate for that - but carefully word the legislation to cover a shed load more than it's claimed.

            There is no need to use the event to pass what would otherwise be quite contentious laws."

            I think your first statement tell us why there is a "need".

    2. Pookietoo

      Re: Say filming the police during a demonstration?

      Shouldn't happen - IIRC you're not allowed to fly them over groups of people.

  14. Blofeld's Cat
    Go

    Er...

    While I agree that private drones are "fair game" in these circumstances, it appears that some emergency services are using similar drones in trials to get a better overall view of the incident.

    Presumably there will need to be some way of differentiating between these "legitimate" drones and the private ones, so that some trigger happy bozo well meaning individual does not target them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Er...

      Presumably there will need to be some way of differentiating between these "legitimate" drones and the private ones,

      Use rules like those for Red Cross medical vehicles. Anything carrying designated marking is not to be targeted. Anyone putting designated marking on a device without authorization to do so gets a very long stretch in jail.

    2. The First Dave

      Re: Er...

      I presume that fifteen thousand "News" helicopters will still be allowed to attend every incident?

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Er...

      "some way of differentiating"

      Blue flashing lights? :-)

  15. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Just paint it black

    American cops have a demonstrated ability to put 50 rounds into anything black in the vicinity.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just paint it black (Liar and Racist!)

      You are apparently too stupid to mark this pile of lies as a joke so you must be serious. All you are doing is perpetuating more unfounded, racist bullcrap.

      Police DO NOT shoot without just cause (4 out of 5 independent grand juries concur), being black does not give you a "pass" if you act like a criminal. Thinking you have more rights than anyone else just because you are black is pretty stupid. Resisting arrest just makes it worse and qualifies you to meet Darwin to pick up your award. Yes there are bad cops but they are far outnumbered by criminals.

      ANYONE who overturns cars, loots, riots and burn buildings should be shot on sight as they ARE criminals, white or black.

      One hopes you have reason to avail yourself of police assistance some time in the future.

      1. James Hughes 1

        Re: Just paint it black (Liar and Racist!)

        Blimey, seems a bit harsh to kill someone for overturning a car, or looting (because, you know, shooting people does lead to death, regularly).

        How about just arresting them?

      2. fruitoftheloon
        WTF?

        @The (fuckwit) AC Re: Just paint it black (Liar and Racist!)

        Ac,

        Question one:

        How dark is your skin?

        Question two:

        How much experience do you have of the sharp, pointy (and occasionally) deadly end of over-zealous policing?

        Question three:

        Wtf are you posting as an AC, I mean, what have you got to hide?

        Have a nice day...

  16. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    simple enough?

    -Require drone operators to have a license if they want to operate in congested areas or over property they do not own. Establish regulations for how close a drone can get in an emergency or disaster situation.

    -If a drone gets in the way of firefighters, it should be treated like the car that parks in front of a hydrant during a fire.

    -Fine the drone operator in accordance with FAA regulations and whatever local statutes apply. Prosecute if injury occurred as a result of the operator's negligence. If the drone was destroyed by first responders, offer the owner a plea bargain depending on the situation--you go away with the pieces of your drone and we'll let you off with a warning instead of fining you or prosecuting you for obstruction of justice, creating a safety hazard, or whatever. If you don't take the pieces of your drone, here's a ticket for littering.

    1. Cuddles Silver badge

      Re: simple enough?

      "Require drone operators to have a license if they want to operate in congested areas or over property they do not own."

      But this is the entire problem. A large part of the point of such drones is that you don't have to be standing immediately beneath them waving a chunky radio remote around. Requiring a license will achieve nothing if you can't tell who actually owns a given drone - the owner could be operating it remotely from an unknown location in the general vicinity, or they could have just programmed it and released it then left the area entirely. It's similar to the problem with idiots shining lasers at aircraft - it's easy to point out that they're idiots and easy to make it illegal, but no amount of laws can help you actually catch the people responsible.

  17. Dave 32
    Go

    Multiple comments

    Firstly, you do NOT want to be firing a rifle round upwards. Remember that law that says "Anything that goes up must come down.". Well, a rifle slug will come down, and with a high enough terminal velocity to be lethal. So, that's not a good idea. For that matter, firing a rifle into the air is illegal in quite a few places, due to the propensity to cause fatalities (Ok, so the military gets to do it for ack-ack rounds, but that's a rather specialized case.).

    A shotgun, with suitably small shot (e.g., #8 bird shot, or #12, or...) will be effective up to about 50 yards, and won't constitute a lethal situation when it comes back down, mainly due to it's small mass to surface area ratio, and rather non-aerodynamic shape. Yeah, I've been peppered with falling bird shot, and it doesn't even hurt.

    As for RF jamming the signals, that would be a bit of a problem, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's against US federal law to interfere with any kind of radio communications. Secondly, you really don't know what frequency the thing is operating on (27 MHz, 72 MHz, 50 MHz, 2.4 GHz, etc.). And, you're not really sure if it's using some kind of encrypted/encoded communications. Sure, you may blanket the entire spectrum with noise, and take out most of the emergency service radios in the process, but you may not do anything to the drone, which may simply remain in position with no radio signal to guide it.

    If the thing is outside of shotgun range, well, one would presume that it's probably far enough away to not be a hindrance to any ground based emergency responders. And, if an air tanker happens to drop a load of water/fire-retardant on it, well, that won't be their problem, if this law passes.

    As for someone shooting one down, one would presume that they'll ensure the likely crash area to be devoid of people/equipment before the shoot-down.

    Dave

  18. x 7 Silver badge

    how many of these RPVs are being deployed by news-gathering teams rather than the local idiots?

  19. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Cause and effect

    "They already do this with cars. An old friend of mine who's a firefighter has plenty of stories about people who park their cars in front of fire hydrants. Firefighters will ram them out of the way with their trucks"...

    That's what I wondered.... fire trucks are permitted to ram cars out of the way that are illegally parked or blocking the intersection, so why wouldn't the feel free to drop that water right on the drones? Well, anyway, if they (for whatever reason) don't, this will make it clear it's permitted.

    Re: "Just Paint it Black (Liar and Racist!)"

    First, I do think it's just a tad tasteless to suggest painting the drones black. I have to admit to having a "bad pun" kind of groan when I saw it though 8-)

    All joking aside, I'm white and I've personally black people pulled over quite disproportionately. In addition, I've noticed when someone white is pulled over (even if the car is full of people), single police car as is usual for a traffic stop. Someone black pulled over (even if they're in the car by itself), the 2nd and 3rd police cars usually show up before the first policeman's possibly had any chance to even glance in the car and determine there's anything worth calling backup for.

    And, no, people who loots, riots, etc. should not be shot... they should be arrested. Resisting arrest *IS* stupid but does not warrant getting shot (unless the person resists arrest by going for their own gun). The police have tazers to take care of anyone that is too "lively" to arrest otherwise.

    For you guys in UK who wonder where these police problems in the US have come from., it's from people like this guy who think "criminals should be shot", combined with people who (while *usually* claiming to not be racist) would think one person is rioting, while another person performing exactly the same actions is protesting. (There's also some degree of hype and hyperbole... a few people have been shot while pulling out their handgun to fire at the police, and if they are black it's rolled out as some example of racism... in those cases, it's definitely not.)

  20. sniperpaddy

    RETURN TO HOME

    A Return-To-Home function kicks in when the drone loses the controller signal.

    That should be achievable by jamming the controller frequency and effectively creating a clear zone around the fire. It does not take much to confuse the interpretation of control packets regardless of encryption. Emergency services operate on different restricted frequencies. No silly nets or free-for-all gunfire.

    Drones without a return-to-home function should be made illegal.

  21. Old Handle

    Shooting them down doesn't strike me as a real good idea, due to the various potential accidents it could cause. Ideally some kind of "drones, stay away" beacon could be used, but obviously that would have to be standardized so it's a ways down the line. But in the mean time I think jamming would be viable. My understanding is that many drones are already programed to return to the take-off position and land in the event the lose contact, so it should be a safe and effective way to clear them out of the air.

  22. Glen Turner 666

    Return to Home not much safer

    The Return to Home function doesn't solve the problem. There's 25% odds that path to Home will be across the firebombing circuit. Realistically Return to Ground is the only safe alternative. But there's a strong scofflaw element within drone operators and due to the likely loss of the aircraft such a safety mechanism is likely to be disabled.

    What's needed here is a social change. As one small example, no stories in the online media with INCREDIBLE DRONE FOOTAGE OF FIRE from non-official sources.

    BTW, there's a huge lack of understanding of aviation in the drone forums discussing this issue. Such as postings claiming that rotor blades aren't under any stress hitting a drone, or that drone shrapnel can be sucked through turbine blades without threatening the aircraft. There's no appreciation at all for the pilot workload of firefighting operations, something apparent to even beginning pilots.

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