Monday, November 11, 2013

Somehow, I Think This Might Not End Well

So PETA (no, not the People Eating Tasty Animals - the real PETA) has decided to introduce drones to:
...collect and publicize footage of hunters shooting animals and allowing them to escape, only to die slowly and in agony, among other common violations.
They also want them used to fly over factory farms and "...other areas that are hotbeds of abuse."

You know what?  I'm not going to focus on those lies.  Everyone who has read the first thing about hunting, let alone known actual hunters, knows that hunters are committed to ethical hunting, "one shot, one kill", and committed to not seeing animals suffer.  It's just that accidents happen and an animal gets away from time to time, not that hunters are being deliberately cruel.  Deliberately cruel is the description for PETA, who killed over 92 % of "adoptable pets" between 1998 and 2012 in Virginia. 

For some unknown reason, Electronic Component News, a trade magazine for engineers of all types, is all over this story.  PETA claims they'll be flying a specially marked version of the AR.Drone 2.0 from Parrot.  The control is via WiFi, and Parrot has apps to run on your iPhone or Android to control these guys.

Hunting in some form or other, of course, is legal in all 50 states.  Some of them - even the Peoples' Republic of Massachusetts - have coded into law that it's illegal to harass hunters:
In Massachusetts, for example, it is illegal to “obstruct, interfere with or otherwise prevent the lawful taking of fish or wildlife by another at the locale where such activity is taking place.” If you fly a drone above a hunter, you not only present a tempting (and slow-moving) target, but you could go to jail or pay a hefty fine.
The first comment is indicative of where I think this is going:
Well... I could use a slow moving practice target. You fly that thing above my property and I have every right to bring it down... and no... I'm not giving you the wreckage back. I'm mounting that puppy.
It's a little nastier than that, though.  WiFi links in wooded areas, where you might be hunting deer, ducks, or whatever,  aren't going to be very long range. The chances of PETA kids meeting Elmer Fudd up close and personal might be a bit higher than they'd like. While I'm comfortable that the vast majority of hunters wouldn't fire on a PETA kid, accidental shootings happen in the woods, especially with people who don't know what they're doing out there.  There might even be some who would invoke the 3 S mantra.  Ya never know.


  1. Have an AR drone myself. Pretty fun to fly. Short run time (say 10 min with aftermarket batteries) between charges.

    Like you say, distance on the link isn't all that far, the drone itself is the access point presented to the phone/device. I'm in suburban DC, plenty of noise on that band...don't like to go more that say 150m around here. No real signal problems so far, just easy to lose in a heavily treed area.

    However, I wouldn't put it past 'em to encourage this sort of thing to bring on such an "accident."

    Plenty of of hobbyist vids out there with this product. Typically for any range extension, they use a repeater. Probably PETA won't be supplying any serious advice to go with these fun toys...

  2. I've some experience with the Parrot.

    Yes, very short range with WiFi, but it's pretty easy to mod it to accept normal 2.4 GHz radio gear, with much improved range ... involves a device called an Arduino.

    If the Parrot is flown Line of Sight ... like a normal RC model, then the operator is going to be very challenged at ranges of more than a hundred yards or so. These things are small and difficult to orientate.

    However, if the Parrot is being flown as an FPV vehicle ... ie, via a camera and headset, remotely-piloted,.. then there is considerable skill and investment required. But, using this facility, much greater operational ranges might be achieved. Lots of factors involved, of course.

    As to bringing them down with small arms fire. ... very difficult, unless you have a shotgun. I used to fly targets, for a living and I've seen an awful lot of ammo expended fruitlessly. It's not easy to hit flying objects, though the Parrot is quite likely to be hovering, which will help. Then again, these things are fairly quiet, in operation.

    There is also a certain indiscipline and risk in firing willy-nilly, I suppose.

    If you watch the video link that I am providing, you will see a few shots of a Parrot, being flown via iPad. Also some footage of the video quality ... not great as the standard fitment. Mind you, this particular Parrot is an early version. The video which is fitted, nowadays, might be better. It's only the first minute or two that is relevant to this thread.