Can the ‘good’ drones be identified?

A reader who often has to work in areas of the Middle East in projects addressing the various forms of damage done by deprivation and warfare raised this issue a few weeks ago:

“Although I agree there can be positive uses for drones, the thing is that ill-disposed users try to make them more acceptable in ‘good’ uses, but then blur the line…

How are poor people in the middle of nowhere supposed to see the difference between a ‘good’ drone & ‘bad’ drone?

When are you supposed to feel relieved (it’s a food aid one) and when anxious (it’ll blow you to smithereens in a sec)?!

Unless clearly coloured etc differently, how to monitor the bad ones? If gov’t gives approval for the good ones, how to check the nasties haven’t squeezed in a bad one? Needs some more thinking before I’m convinced …

Far away . . .

drone shot down in iranIn August, Iran TV showed still images of a reported Israeli spy drone that was shot down as it was flying towards the Natanz uranium enrichment site, south of Tehran.

An Israeli spokesman told AFP in Jerusalem that the military does “not address foreign media reports”. Read on here.

Much nearer . . .

Yesterday Dan Bilevsky reported in the New York Times that two men and a woman were questioned by the police on Thursday after being arrested in possession of two drones near the Belleville-sur-Loire nuclear power plant in central France. This follows news of at least 14 illegal drone flights over French nuclear plants in recent weeks, which have raised concerns about the security of the country’s main source of electricity:

“From Oct. 5 to Nov. 2, guards at 13 nuclear plants, including some operated by the French electricity giant EDF, heard the buzzing of drones that the authorities have labelled an “organized provocation” aimed at “disrupting the surveillance chain and protection of these sites.” Officials said that the drones were not military, but rather civilian or commercial, and that they could be used to take photographs or record video of the plants”.

drones cattenom nuclearThe Guardian’s Arthur Neslen adds that other nuclear facilities may have also been targeted for surveillance by the drones. Sources say that drones also overflew an Areva spent fuel reprocessing plant in Flamanville on the Cotentin peninsula on 27 October and nuclear research centres in Saclay, south of Paris, and Cadarache, in Bouche-du-Rhone.

French nuclear plants supply nearly 75% of its electricity; Le Figaro, citing an anonymous government official, has reported that police officers are under orders to shoot down any aircraft that could threaten the plants.

Yannick Rousselet, Greenpeace France’s nuclear campaigner, who lives close to the Flamanville plant, said that two army helicopters failed to intercept drones there on 27th October. “They were efficient high speed helicopters,” he said. “They tried to follow the drones, but lost them.”

Can the genie be replaced in the bottle or can these machines be effectively identified and controlled?

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