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Friday, March 29, 2013

What Should I Do With This Drone Someone Bought Me?

Posted by on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 6:00 AM

This drone someone bought me.
  • E.S.
So, in the process of reporting this, I ended up with one of these.

Someday sooner than you probably expect, every American will be able to have one—a personal drone to fly around and act out his or her wishes.

Which, if you ask me, means our current drone debates are leaving out a hugely important question. You hear a lot of concerns being raised about overseas drone strikes, and plenty of angst about police department drone programs—all of which is great, and well warranted—but you don't hear many people asking:

What happens when average Americans can purchase their own flying proxies?

If you think gun control is a hard issue, imagine living in a country where every citizen has a right to buy a flying drone equipped with cameras and more. (Actually, don't worry about imagining. You already live in that country. It's just that personal drones are, at the moment, too expensive for most Americans to afford. It won't be that way for long.)

My exploration of this fast-approaching mess is linked above, but now that the story's all done there's a another question:

What do I do with this thing?

As far as I know, Slog has never had a drone at its disposal before. So the suggestion box is open in the comments below. Give me a mission, and I'll get back to you—same time, same place—on Monday.


Comments (62) RSS

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Rob in Baltimore 1
You should give it to me!
Posted by Rob in Baltimore on March 29, 2013 at 6:41 AM · Report this
pfffter 2
Follow SPOG with it.
Posted by pfffter on March 29, 2013 at 6:50 AM · Report this
Blow up a suspected terrorist?
Posted by Jude Fawley on March 29, 2013 at 6:53 AM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 4
Use it to cover a story. And also lend it to Grant for a Traffic Report, obvs.…
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on March 29, 2013 at 6:55 AM · Report this
GlibReaper 5
Get close up shots of all the new surveillance cameras.
Posted by GlibReaper on March 29, 2013 at 6:56 AM · Report this
Kinison 6
You should clearly get upset, spazz out and petition USPS, UPS and FedEx to ban the delivery of such privacy invasive things. Then ask the Mayor to force the manufacturer to take it back for full credit, but only after you play with it for a year.
Posted by Kinison on March 29, 2013 at 6:59 AM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 7
Sorry, meant to excerpt from that link:
Perhaps it was inevitable, then, that journalists in the United States would take an interest in drone technology, too. According to an ABC News report last week, professors at the University of Missouri have started a “Drone Journalism Program” to teach their students how to use drones as reporting tools. Students “learn to fly them, and also do what reporters do: brainstorm ideas, go out and do reporting, do drone based photography and video,” professor William Allen told reporter Colleen Curry. “We're trying to see if this is going to be useful for journalism.”

The Chinese help-wanted ad follows on the heels of an already successfully journalistic drone exercise conducted by a different Chinese news outlet last fall, according to the CRI report. Americans are getting in line. Curry continues:

The leaders of the drone journalism movement envision a time when news organizations replace costly helicopters and pilots with cheap drones to get closer to breaking news or weather stories, along with using them to uncover investigative pieces they may normally not see.

“The other aspect is investigative, the idea is you put a drone up in the air and look around. Maybe you'll find things, who knows what yet,” Allen said. “We need to explore that and see. Many journalists can't afford to rent a helicopter and fly around.”
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on March 29, 2013 at 6:59 AM · Report this
I have a shotgun. I'd be happy to use it for a target.
Posted by Bean on March 29, 2013 at 6:59 AM · Report this
Harrass your competitors. Hover outside the window of the Seattle Times' editor with a little banner advertising The Stranger. Take pictures of him gawking at it. Run it on the front page.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on March 29, 2013 at 7:00 AM · Report this
Fnarf 10
@9, dammit, you beat me to it by seconds. Hover outside the window of the Times or the Weekly or Seattle Met.
Posted by Fnarf on March 29, 2013 at 7:02 AM · Report this
You can use it to start a taco delivery service.
Posted by ScruffyBallardMan on March 29, 2013 at 7:15 AM · Report this
You could do a "what your wearing" style series but for buildings "what's on top of you" or the likes. Assuming it has a camera.
Posted by Foonken2 on March 29, 2013 at 7:22 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 13
This could revolutionize porn.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on March 29, 2013 at 7:25 AM · Report this
passionate_jus 14
Use it for what everybody else is going to use it for -- to look down girl's shirts.
Posted by passionate_jus on March 29, 2013 at 7:28 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 15
I hate to burst your bubble, but just about any use you could put this thing to that's also legal isn't going to be a whole lot of fun.

Flying over private property or looking in windows is definitely a no-no.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on March 29, 2013 at 7:28 AM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 16
Police surveillance when big stuff is going down. Weed delivery service the rest of the time.
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on March 29, 2013 at 7:36 AM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 17
"Flying over private property or looking in windows is definitely a no-no." I'm not sure about the looking in windows thing. Isn't it currently legal to look in windows when you're not on (or over) private property?
Posted by Matt the Engineer on March 29, 2013 at 7:39 AM · Report this
@15 My suggestion is completely legal, as long as the window in question is in an office building facing a public street. It's legal to fly an advertising banner. And, it's legal to take a picture of it, as well as someone looking out a window at it, especially if it's a newsworthy person. Even more so if that picture is taken by someone on the sidewalk across the street. (Don't forget your adjustable polarizing filter, to cut the reflections from the window.)
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on March 29, 2013 at 7:46 AM · Report this
ScandalMgr 19
Get a Drone-Master-Plan written up and never funded by the city, then start a war on helicopters, with designated lanes for drones. Complain loudly in some alternative weekly paper when your little drone gets knocked off by a huey or CH-53.
Posted by ScandalMgr on March 29, 2013 at 7:47 AM · Report this
Eli Sanders 20
@12: It has two cameras: one in the nose that's hi-def, and one on the bottom that's lower def.

@15 and @17: If you read my piece on this, you'll see the question of whether my drone can hover over your private property is not as resolved as you might expect:

Take, for example, a frequently raised question: If a drone is hovering over my private property, do I have a right to shoot it out of the sky?

In this property-rights-obsessed nation, it turns out you actually don't have a clear right to shoot down a drone hovering low over your backyard unless it's putting you in imminent physical danger.

"You have to acknowledge in this day and age that stuff flies over your house," Ryan Calo, a professor at the University of Washington who specializes in robotics and the law, told me.

There's more on that as the story goes on.
Posted by Eli Sanders on March 29, 2013 at 7:48 AM · Report this
When I was a kid, we had another name for these scary sounding "drones". We called them remote controlled (R/C) helicopters.
Posted by hifiandrew on March 29, 2013 at 7:58 AM · Report this
Hey everyone, check out my land drone!!…
Posted by hifiandrew on March 29, 2013 at 7:59 AM · Report this
Follow Sam Baloney-O around with it during his 'campaign' - hilarity will ensue. Please do this.
Posted by Action Slacks on March 29, 2013 at 8:01 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 24
I need more people to look at 11. I also need tacos. Someone bring me flying tacos. Eli. Bring me flying tacos.
Posted by MacCrocodile on March 29, 2013 at 8:11 AM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 25
You probably can't shoot a drone down in your back in the city. But if you can bring it down in some way that doesn't endanger all of your neighbors for blocks around, I see no problem with that. I'm pretty sure my right to privacy in my own fucking yard trumps the right of some tweeking teenager with an R/C helicopter and digicam to perve on my hot tub party.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on March 29, 2013 at 8:14 AM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 26
@20, for what it's worth, that finally got me to subscribe to the free trial that let me finally read the end of your article I started yesterday. So if I'm anything to go by, it takes about four urgings to get a longtime reader to put up the money. And I'm one of those people who feels terrible canceling at the end of a "free trial" for journalism, so I'm good and hooked now.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on March 29, 2013 at 8:19 AM · Report this
Eli Sanders 27
@25: Don't be so sure. I thought so too, and then I started reporting this story.
Posted by Eli Sanders on March 29, 2013 at 8:19 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 28
Hobbyists put cameras on remote controlled helicopters and fly them around all the time. People put cameras on backyard rockets, homemade balloons, etc.

Strange how this was never a contentious issue until the word "drone" began to be used for them.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on March 29, 2013 at 8:21 AM · Report this
I think you should just have it follow Charles Mudede around, all day every day.
Posted by JenV on March 29, 2013 at 8:24 AM · Report this
Protect the Space Needle views! or Project Space Needle view, depending on if it has rockets or cameras.
Posted by DJSauvage on March 29, 2013 at 8:24 AM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 31
@27, perhaps you're right. Lawyering is obviously not my trade.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on March 29, 2013 at 8:33 AM · Report this
Give it to SPD to replace the ones that Mayor McGinn took away from them :)
Posted by AlanS on March 29, 2013 at 8:40 AM · Report this
Fnarf 33
The real answer is "nobody knows until a couple of cases have gone to court".
Posted by Fnarf on March 29, 2013 at 8:43 AM · Report this
Maybe it's just me, but the phrase "The Stranger News Drone" both frightens and intrigues me.
Posted by Flynn27 on March 29, 2013 at 8:47 AM · Report this
spaceapple 36
Mount an AR-15 on it, declare this your constitutional right, then fly it over NRA headquarters.
Posted by spaceapple on March 29, 2013 at 8:47 AM · Report this
Seek out and mess with cats.
Posted by kinaidos on March 29, 2013 at 8:51 AM · Report this
Baconcat 38
Deliver tacos with it.

No, seriously. Drone me over some fucking tacos, Eli.
Posted by Baconcat on March 29, 2013 at 9:01 AM · Report this
Womyn2me 39
fly it over here to 1144 Eastlake and take a picture of me thru our office window. I need a picture for this years Christmas card and if this is the wave of the future, I want to be on top. of it.
Posted by Womyn2me http://http:\\ on March 29, 2013 at 9:04 AM · Report this
Personal drones, if larger and with more lifting power and range (think fuel cells) could be your "second car". Think of all the places you drive to put something in your trunk and bring it back. Not any more...send your personal drone to get tonight's groceries...or pick up some contact lens solution.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on March 29, 2013 at 9:06 AM · Report this
I am sure that infernal machine is far too dangerous to keep in Seattle, heck far too dangerous to keep in Washington. The safest thing to do, Eli, is to box it up and ship it to me here in San Francisco. You've got my number. Call me.
Posted by PaulBarwick on March 29, 2013 at 9:09 AM · Report this
Uhh, first I'd lighten the hell up and take a deep breath.

Then I'd take it out and play with it. I've had one since last November and it's the coolest toy ever. Metaphorically, this is finally the flying car we were promised as kids.

I've used mine to get some fantastic aerial shots of the fountain at the Seattle Center and wheat country in Eastern Washington. The thing really is insanely cool.
Posted by CPN on March 29, 2013 at 9:11 AM · Report this
rezbilly 43
Challenge SPD Chief Diaz to drone war
Posted by rezbilly on March 29, 2013 at 9:17 AM · Report this
Sweeney Agonistes 45
I'm Team Taco Delivery Service.
Posted by Sweeney Agonistes on March 29, 2013 at 9:28 AM · Report this
internet_jen 46
Bike cam, like how regular citizen Russians have those dash cams for proof in court about traffic stuff.
Posted by internet_jen on March 29, 2013 at 9:40 AM · Report this
It depends on what the FAA says about it. I almost got into a shitload of trouble sending off a candy rocket too far up. They don't tolerate that kind of shit in flight paths. At least I finally have a reason to be happy about living directly under the path of the third runway.
This would also be a good time to invest in tanning salons. No more nude tanning out on my deck.
Posted by pussnboots on March 29, 2013 at 9:58 AM · Report this
These things have been around since I was a kid in the 80's.

You can buy them on Amazon right now for under a hundred bucks. The novelty wears off pretty quickly.
Posted by giffy on March 29, 2013 at 10:04 AM · Report this
@28 Excellent point. The word drone gets the fringe left into even more of a paranoid froth than the word socialism does for the far right.
Posted by Rhizome on March 29, 2013 at 10:30 AM · Report this
Use it to photograph breaking news, like crime scenes, police standoffs, parades, marches, protests, and outdoor press conferences.

Also, I bet there's some really pretty aerial photography you could do with it, just for the art.
Posted by Lack Thereof on March 29, 2013 at 10:52 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 51
Deliver tacos in poetry infused wrappers to the Seattle Times.

Use pics of them eating the messy tacos as part of a "privacy-enabling" campaign on SLOG.
Posted by Will in Seattle on March 29, 2013 at 10:58 AM · Report this
"Drone" now equals a remote control model aircraft with a camera?

You can get these at Target and Radio Shack for fuck sake.

You realize these have been around for over twenty years. And they've been affordable for about that long.

Sure, the nifty quad-copters are somewhat new and have all sorts of other maneuverability qualities. But the concept itself is nothing new and there has been millions of hobbyists making them for decades.

Jesus. The hyperbole. DRONE! OMG! Evil sky robots!

Next you'll be classifying RC dune buggy's as Robot Tanks. An RC speed boats as Hunter Killers.
Posted by tkc on March 29, 2013 at 11:01 AM · Report this
stinkbug 53
@48: "The novelty wears off pretty quickly"

Maybe if you're only using the toy versions you mentioned and you have no real interest in RCing.
Posted by stinkbug on March 29, 2013 at 11:26 AM · Report this
Josh Bis 54
What's the flight time on this? 10 minutes? Maybe it's time to recreate "We Saw Your Light On" with a surveillance state twist?
Posted by Josh Bis on March 29, 2013 at 11:28 AM · Report this
Posted by AliasM on March 29, 2013 at 11:46 AM · Report this
aardvark 56
convert it into a flying penis, make friends
Posted by aardvark on March 29, 2013 at 11:52 AM · Report this
ScrawnyKayaker 57
Too expensive? If you could convince these guys there's a market for a couple thousand of them, they could add a camera and datalink to one of these babies for an all-in price under fifty bucks.…

Posted by ScrawnyKayaker on March 29, 2013 at 12:18 PM · Report this
GlibReaper 59
The city of Seattle is setting up a wireless mesh network using WiFi antennas throughout the downtown. Your drone uses WiFi as a control channel. Just sayin'
Posted by GlibReaper on March 29, 2013 at 1:16 PM · Report this
gttrgst 60
Can it facilitate passing a joint?
Posted by gttrgst on March 29, 2013 at 1:50 PM · Report this
gttrgst 61
Glitter bomb!
Posted by gttrgst on March 29, 2013 at 1:55 PM · Report this
Go take high perspective pictures of dogs at the park.
Posted by bago on March 29, 2013 at 6:33 PM · Report this
Either Tacocopter or spend the day following an SPD car. The latter is definitely legal.
Posted by ishf on March 30, 2013 at 5:23 PM · Report this
@64 It might be legal for the quadcopter, but as for the batteries, that's another story. It won't stay up for too long before it needs recharging. With several sets of batteries, you could probably keep it going for a while, as long as you're chasing it around with a high-speed battery charger, but all day is probably out of the question, and you have to keep landing it to swap batteries.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on March 30, 2013 at 7:11 PM · Report this
i'm pro-science and i vote 66
Air drop ballot cheat sheets outside polling places when elections come around
Posted by i'm pro-science and i vote on March 31, 2013 at 9:07 AM · Report this

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