John Horgan
Scientific American
February 18, 2013

USAF General Atomics MQ-1 Predator drone. Shot down during NATO airstrikes on Serbia in 1999.
Are drones far down on your list of anxieties? Do lethal flying robots seem like something Pakistanis, Afghans and other inhabitants of faraway lands need to fear but not Americans? Let me give you a few reasons why Americans should be worried. Most of this material–plus much more–can be found in “The Drones Come Home,” my article for the March issue of National Geographic Magazine.

*The Obama administration has pledged to relax Federal Aviation Administration restrictions by 2015 to make it easier for the 18,000 U.S. law-enforcement agencies to deploy drones for surveillance and other uses. According to a report in today’s New York Times, the Department of Homeland Security has also offered grants to help police departments purchase drones, which are “becoming a darling of law-enforcement authorities across the country.”

*The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is funding research on “micro-drones” that resemble moths, hummingbirds and other small flying creatures and hence can “hide in plain sight,” as one Air Force researcher told me. The Air Force is now testing micro-drones at facilities such as the “micro-aviary” at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

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