The pan-European stealth combat drone demonstrator Neuron is seen at the Istres air base unit, near Marseille, southern France, on June 12, 2014.
The U.S. government uses them to bomb alleged terrorists in far-away places. Tech companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook are all toying with the idea of using them, and now they're a photographer's secret weapon. Drones are a big part of our lives, whether we see them or not. Drone Beat collects the best and most important stories every week.
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Last update: June 27, 6:13 p.m. ET
U.S. deploys armed drones over Baghdad
In response to the rapid advance of the Iraqi terror group known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the United States has deployed armed drones over Baghdad, U.S. officials said on Friday.
The drone's primary mission, for now, is to protect the American military advisors sent to Iraq by President Barack Obama. But the drone's operators are ready to strike the insurgents if need be.
"We have the necessary forces not only to protect our own forces, but to be prepared should the President make a decision to do something more," a senior Pentagon official said, according to Time. "We’ve got both manned and unmanned over Iraq, and it shouldn’t surprise anybody that some of our drones have armaments."
Man watches police with drones
Daniel Saulman, a man from Torrance, California, has been monitoring cops with a drone for about a month. His goal is to monitor the police for potential abuses of power. Saulman, who has been recording police activity for years, has even been arrested for his police monitoring efforts. He posts the videos on his website, hoping to shine a light on what police officers are doing.
"If there's police activity in my area that is close by, I generally will go and try to record and document whatever I see," Saulmon told a local TV station.
University will let students check out drones like library books
The University of South Florida plans to give students the ability to borrow small drones for their multimedia projects, just as if they were library books. The University purchased two drones, worth $1,500 each, with some leftover money it received to renew the school's facilities with new technologies.
Unfortunately for USF students, the actual process of borrowing a drone won't be as simple as checking out a book. Students will have to enroll in a training program, explain how they intend to use it for their academic projects, and will be watched by a faculty member while using it on campus. For off-campus use, the students will need a professor's endorsement and will also be asked to sign a waiver taking full responsibility for any damages.
The University is excited about the possibilities offered by having UAVs available to its students and faculty.
"There are a lot of opportunities for research and learning by using drones," Bill Garrison, the dean of USF Libraries told the Atlantic. "We have a global sustainability program, and they are mapping out the campus to see energy usage, so they can use the drones to help map out the campus."
Report warns of drone strike risks
A new report prepared by a bipartisan panel of former senior intelligence and military officials warned that the U.S. government's reliance on drone strikes could send America down a "slippery slope" leading to a state of perpetual war.
The report, published on Thursday by the Stimson Center, also warned of some of the unintended consequences of targeted killings by flying robots. Specifically, the report mentions the potential radicalization of communities suffering from drone-related civilian deaths, as well as the bad precedent the drone use sets for other nations.
"You can have all these tactical successes, where you end up with a lot of dead bad guys, but then you just see the problem proliferating elsewhere because the roots are political and sometimes killing people one by one can [...] make things worse rather than better," Georgetown law professor Rosa Brooks told NPR.
The international proliferation of drones
The military drone market is expected to grow to $82 billion by 2022, according to a new report by defense and security agency IHS Jane’s, as first reported by the Guardian.
As America's wars overseas dwindle, drone manufacturers are moving to sell drones to other countries that aren't as well armed as the United States. This state of affairs could eventually have unforeseen impacts.
"Right now, there is no policy anywhere in the world to stop drones from getting into the hands of anyone who wants them, so the possibilities for profits are endless," University of Utah law professor Amos Guiora told the Guardian. "It’s essentially become a sort of wild west."
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