01 Apr 15. AUVSI Hosts Largest International Unmanned Systems and Robotics Exposition, May 4-7 2015 in Atlanta www.auvsishow.org. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) will host Unmanned Systems 2015, which will run from May 4-7 in Atlanta. Credentialed members of the press are welcome to attend and may register for complimentary access to all events. With 8,000 attendees from around the world, Unmanned Systems 2015 is the largest global expo and trade show in the industry. The event will include three days of interactive exhibits and exciting demonstrations of air and ground vehicles spread throughout 350,000 square feet of exhibit space. The 150-plus educational sessions, workshops, and panel presentations will focus on the global commercial, industrial, environmental, governmental, and military applications for robotics and unmanned systems.
31 Mar 15. UAVs are interim solution for armed scout mission, US Army says.
* The US Army would like to buy a new recon helo before it fields FVL
* It is temporarily using AH-64 Apaches teamed with RQ-7 Shadow UAVs
The US Army would like to buy a new armed reconnaissance helicopter even before fielding a family of next-generation Future Vertical Lift (FVL) rotorcraft in the 2030s, a senior official told IHS Jane’s on 31 March. “If industry can come up with an affordable solution, I’d like to see us remain agile enough to go after it rather than waiting for FVL,” Major General Michael Lundy, commander of the US Army Aviation Center of Excellence, said during the annual Army Aviation Association of America summit. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
26 Mar 15. Drones: The Looming Threat. Unmanned aircraft, otherwise known as drones, are becoming common. Many are familiar with America’s use of armed drones in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere but drones are also increasingly being used by other parts of government, by companies and individuals. Drones can be far cheaper to operate than anything that requires an on-board pilot, and they are handy for making maps and taking pictures and videos. The FBI uses a small fleet of drones for law-enforcement surveillance. Customs and Border Patrol uses them to monitor the American border with Mexico. Commercial drones are now regularly used for real-estate photography and to monitor oil and gas pipelines, among many other applications. The proliferation of drones, which include both small fixed-wing aircraft and small rotorcraft with multiple propellers, raises some vexing public-policy questions. At issue is also the way some drones can loiter overhead for long stretches, engaging in what is called “persistent surveillance”. As drones—and other airborne surveillance platforms, such as circling manned aircraft and lighter-than-air craft—become cheaper and more effective, persistent aerial surveillance could become the norm, and no privacy or transparency measures currently exist in the law. The current state of the law, both legislation and court decisions, is poorly suited to deal with persistent surveillance. This is because privacy law is tailored to questions of whether one is in public, an open field, or in a space where one has a “reasonable expectation of privacy”. The Supreme Court has, at times, expanded such spaces, for instance finding in 1967 that the FBI cannot eavesdrop on conversations in telephone booths without a warrant. But in this era of “big data”, the line between public and private can no longer be delimited by physical boundaries.
Complicating matters, there is no clear line between episodic surveillance, a snapshot, and persistent surveillance even though the effects are profoundly different. It’s the difference between a snapshot and an overhead video that shows the comings and goings of everybody in a city over the course of a week. In such a video, a so-called “pattern-of-life” emerges. Any still frame from the video might be a defensible incursion on privacy, yet the whole video is