What Will We Watch As Drones Evolve”—LISTEN
A drone takes its first flight at Edwards Air Force Base in California in February. In the near future, drones could be used outside of the military for things like traffic helicopters or flying jumbo jets July 30, 2011
Every week it seems there are reports about U.S. drones — unmanned, remote-controlled aerial vehicles — tracking down suspected terrorists in remote, unreachable areas of Yemen, Somalia, Libya or Pakistan. Drone technology is becoming increasingly affordable and accessible, with new potential for everyday use in the United States — and new worries for national security.
Uses At Home
Shane Harris, journalist and author of The Watchers: The Rise of America’s Surveillance State, tells Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon there are several potential near-term uses for drones. The Customs and Border Protection unit of Homeland Security, for example, is experimenting with drones the size of small birds for monitoring the border.
Harris says drones have also been used in natural disaster situations, including at the Fukushima plant after the earthquake in Japan. Drones the size of spiders could inspect houses during hostage situations. He says drones are also likely to be used in mass farming to replace crop dusters or even herd cattle — even traffic helicopters could also be replaced.
The technology could theoretically also fly jumbo jets, Harris says, allowing companies like UPS and FedEx to use drones instead of people to fly their planes.