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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

China, for one, welcomes their new robot overlords.

Washington, D.C., Jan. 26, 2015. Drone that crashed onto the White House grounds. AP Photo/US Secret Service.
The Chinese company that builds these drones is updating their firmware to prevent the craft from flying over the capital. They can do this because the drone is equipped with GPS. I wonder if they have all the other restricted airspaces, like airports, stored in the machines memory? How long before that becomes a requirement? And will it include little airports as well as big ones? And how much memory will that take? And will it be US only, or cover the whole world? And what if the parameters change? Who's gonna update the drone's list?
    I can see this becoming a real digital nightmare, like something Microsoft and their DRM (Digital Rights Management). Drone won't fly unless it has cell phone service so it can verify if it's current list of operating parameters is valid, which means you need cell phone service to fly your drone, and it won't be cheap service because the update will be a couple of gigabytes of data and there is a charge for transmitting that. There will always be those who are able to figure out ways around these kind of annoying bureaucratic restrictions, but  you can bet that the bureaucrats are going to be working to make it hard to do.
   Eventually a small, hobby drone, either accidentally or on purpose, is going to bring down an airliner. And it won't be long after that that a multibillion dollar contract is issued to a big defense contractor to build anti-drone laser weapons which will be installed on all commercial airliners.
   The future's so bright, I gotta wear laser-proof shades.

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