The 6 Drones You Need to Know About

The drones are coming! The drones are coming! America’s legally questionable use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (sometimes more accurately termed Unmanned Aerial Sensors) abroad has many people worried about the scale and type of future domestic applications. A new bill has been introduced that adresses those fears. If signed into law, it woud severely regulate the purchase and use of drones by law enforcement and other agencies like the FBI.

For the moment, try to forget that big brother may someday have the authority to drive a Hellfire missile through your front door, and just focus on the impressive technology. Here are six drones, selected from an extensive arsenal, that represent the general capabilities of the American drone fleet. Information and quotes about the various UAVs were largely drawn from a publicly available congressional report that is included at the bottom of this article. For those of you who aren’t into sifting through longwinded government documents, we’ve also made and included a handy infographic.

*These figures reflect publicly released information. Different iterations and models of the aircraft will have different capabilities.

Drone Capabilities, UAV infographic

Click to Enlarge

1. RQ-4 Global Hawk

“The Raven provides Army and SOCOM personnel with ‘over-the-hill’ reconnaissance, sniper spotting, and surveillance scouting of intended convoy routes. The electric motor initiates flight once hand-launched by a running-start from the ground operator. The vehicle is powered by an electric battery that needs to be recharged after 90 minutes, but deployed soldiers are equipped with four auxiliary batteries that can be easily charged using the 28 volt DC outlet in a Humvee. The vehicle lands via a controlled crash in which the camera separates from the body, which is composed of Kevlar plating for extra protection.”

The Raven is small, relatively cheap ($35K), and has a low learning curve. Of all the drones on the list, this one seems the most likely to end up being deployed domestically. Though, as the video above demonstrates, launching it is something of an art.

The promised report.

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