Imagine a robot hovering overhead as you go about your day, driving to and from work, heading to the grocery store, or stopping by a friend’s house. The robot records your every movement with a surveillance camera and streams the information to a government command center. Whether you make a wrong move, or appear to be doing something suspicious, even if you don’t do anything suspicious, the information of your whereabouts, including what stores and offices you visit, what political rallies you attend, and what people you meet will be recorded, saved and easily accessed at a later date.
As I document in my book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, this scenario is inching ever closer to becoming our reality as corporations and government agencies alike prepare for their part in the coming drone invasion. The online retailer Amazon is designing its own pilotless delivery drones, octocopters, which would be used to deliver products under five pounds within a 10-mile range and with a 30 minute turnaround. The Domino’s pizza chain has also been looking to unmanned drones to give it an edge on its competitors. The “DomiCopter” is being developed to deliver two Domino’s pizzas in the company’s Heatwave bags. Not to be outdone, there’s also a TacoCopter drone—for delivering tacos—in the works. And then, of course, there’s the government, which will rely on drones for everything from border control and aerial surveillance to traffic enforcement, crowd control and fighting forest fires. Needless to say, whatever you can imagine, it will not be long before there is a drone suited to every purpose under the sun.
As Americans will soon discover firsthand, drones—unmanned aerial vehicles—come in all shapes and sizes, from nano-sized drones as small as a grain of sand that can do everything from conducting surveillance to detonating explosive charges, to middle-sized copter drones that can deliver pizzas to massive “hunter/killer” Predator warships that unleash firepower from on high.
Once used exclusively by the military to carry out aerial surveillance and attacks on enemy insurgents abroad, these remotely piloted, semi-autonomous robots have been authorized by Congress and President Obama for widespread use in American airspace starting in 2015. It is estimated that at least 30,000 drones will be airborne by 2020, all part of an $80 billion industry that is already creating a buzz in the atmosphere. In fact, there are already nine states “poised to dominate the drone economy,” those being California, Washington, Texas, Ohio, Indiana, Florida, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Alabama.
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