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Solar-Powered Drone Is Big Brother With Wings

Solar-Powered Drone Is Big Brother With Wings

Usually, adding solar panels to something only makes me like it more. IPhone? Awesome. Solar-Powered iPhone? Way better. See how that works?

Unfortunately, a company over in New Mexico seems determined to make me question that logic. Silent Falcon UAS Technologies recently unveiled a six-foot-long unmanned aircraft that can be launched by hand and conduct surveillance for up to 14 hours. It’s a solar-powered drone, and if this company has anything to do with it, it’s coming to the sky above you very soon.

According to a company release, the Silent Falcon is a solar-electric unmanned aerial system designed to use the power of the sun to stay in flight longer. The drone features a solar electric propulsion system, rugged composite structure, and three interchangeable wing configurations. It was designed to be carried by a single man and launched by hand. It’s able to beam back high-definition video to a command post and is silent from a distance of 100 feet.


With a a $250,000 to $300,000 price tag, it’s unlikely that your creepy neighbor will be using the Silent Falcon to spy on your dinner party anytime soon. Still, what’s truly disturbing is all the interest local governments are showing in this drone.

According to company CEO John Brown, their ideal customers are law enforcement at the city, state and federal level, as well as the U.S. Border Patrol. ‘An eye in the sky could be used to interdict drugs, ensure port security, check power lines and fuel pipelines, as well as size up needs in disaster relief, fight forest fires, and count wildlife,’ Brown told Forbes. Oh I’m so glad he put that benign-sounding stuff in there at the end. Otherwise it sounds like the Silent Falcon is just perfect for spying on private citizens.

So let me see if I’ve got this straight: living in the “freest” country in the world means withholding tax dollars from the solar and wind energy technologies that could actually set us free from foreign fuels, but if that same solar or wind energy is put to use for militant, right-violating purposes, it’s totally fine to put it on the taxpayers’ tab? Does that seem twisted to anyone else?

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2:41PM PST on Jan 28, 2013

II just signed a petition requesting that the Senate add this discussion to their interview of Mr. Brennan prior to the decision for CIA Director. Frankly, my first reaction, when I saw the title, was to mumble to myself "whose brilliant idea was this...oh, just use solar and it'll become a less expensive, warm and fuzzy kind of thing?!" And that's about as far as I've gotten.

11:02AM PDT on Aug 23, 2012

I'm supporting the development of Drone interceptors. Like the drones they can be launched from anywhere and all the components are easily available and at a tiny fraction of the cost of the slow moving " targets". In fact most school children could easily operate interceptors and destroy these Nazi big brother inspired Drones.

10:41AM PDT on Aug 22, 2012

We need some campaign to put positive pressure on Obama to enact some reasonable regulations on the use of drones.

Everyone seems to be just making him their enemy when both sides would continue to use drones anyways,
so the only reasonable course of action is to try to get him to evolve on this issue as we've got him to evolve on LGBT rights and everything else.

Positive pressure works very well on this president and that's speaking from experience.

I think that the only feasible thing we could accomplish is limiting the use of drones to the mitigation of nuclear threats.
The one main reason why Obama won't move on drone regulations is because it's currently the only alternative to carpet bombing Iran like the republicans want to.

We have to push for regulations that limit their use to this alone
and we'd have a chance to stop them from using them for policing/violating our basic privacy rights.

So where's the campaign to get to Obama on this?
I'm not seeing anything but typical reactionary "don't vote" ideology mostly everywhere in response to this which won't solve anything at all.

Join me in sending letters to the president on this issue.

He's listened to us before on many issues.
Why not at least put the effort in to try to get him on our side on this one instead of just the usual stuff that's not working?
Agree with me or disagree with me,
it still can't hurt to send a letter and if you really care about this issue you will.

10:08PM PDT on Aug 20, 2012

Of course there are the new "FaceDeals" cameras being field tested before nationwide deployment at retail stores across the country. These devices use facial recognition to track each and every individual entering an establishment so equipped.

As we have seen , once track-able information becomes available , government seems more than willing to forcibly take advantage of it no matter what private firm collects it "twitter etc." or how much those firms may (or in some cases may not) resist.

One might as well treat these various systems as extensions of government spying , where commercial companies are but constitutional condoms.

7:42PM PDT on Aug 20, 2012


11:38AM PDT on Aug 20, 2012

If you are concerned about "Big Brother," consider information pulled from Forbes, and quoted in "The Week," about facial-detection technology that will allow your T.V. to check on your gender, mood, and more.
"Microsoft has built an entire advertising platform around its motion-sensing console, Kinect, which can determine the presence and age of anyone in the room. So called "smart TV's are already being sold..." that will allow "TV ads for kids that play only when their parents are out of the room."
I do not do Facebook, or Twitter, and can not push a petition, but plead with anyone who can, to set one up that will, hopefully, stop this invasion of our homes and lives.
An article in care2 would also be helpful.

8:00AM PDT on Aug 20, 2012

Steven J, As for GPS in your phone. Back in Mexico, we must comply with a Federal Law, called CURP, it meant to identify the user. Yet, you can still buy an unregistered phone and purchase a phone card, a Tarjeta. The drug cartels just love it.

I still have an America cell phone, albeit, it is older, but functions quite correctly, I keep it charged and at the ready...after all, you never know when America will experience its own version of the "Arab Spring."

6:09AM PDT on Aug 20, 2012

Way too intrusive. Reminds me of the old saying about "pie in the sky". The pie is being divided up between the govt. and big business and who will be paying for the pie--we will in more ways than one.

4:25AM PDT on Aug 20, 2012

Too terrifying. We all know how local councils like to use Google Earth to find and prosecute unapproved buildings and modifications and pools, patios, spas etc in people's backyards. We all know what happened in England where everyone was under pretty much 90% surveillance and how many lives were destroyed, how many marriages were torn apart and for all that how little crime was prevented or even solved with it. They already spy far too much. Thanks for that link Kevaquarian. was a good read.

12:23AM PDT on Aug 20, 2012

This is just wrong, on so many levels!
Why should any level of government have solar-powered spy equipment, when they refuse to even consider changing from fossil fuel to cleaner, better solar and wind power?
Why should taxpayer's have to pay for the government to purchase "drones"--if the "powers that be" want them, let them pay for them theirselves, out of their private funds;
Why should taxpayer's have to pay for spyware that is being aimed at them--taking away their freedom, liberty, privacy?
I say, go to hell and keep your damn drones away from me!

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