A drone buzzing above prison grounds would concern guards and wardens no matter what, but the one that recently roiled the north yard at the Mansfield Correctional Institution in Mansfield, Ohio was carrying a riot-inciting payload: "144.5 grams of tobacco, 65.4 grams of marijuana and 6.6 grams of heroin,"
The tactical and military uses of drones are
, as are cool
and news applications—there's even a
. Private sector innovations in drone-based shenanigans these days aren't as forbidding as bomb-laden robots rocketing across the sky, but they are growing creepier by the month. Before 2015, for example, the statement "a drone caused a prison riot" sounded like pure science fiction.
In the United Kingdom, the Daily Mail reportsa "plague" of drones buzzing storied locations like Big Ben and Parliament. Tourists have realized the selfie stick just won't provide the perfect cinematic angle for that group shot in front of the Tower of London. Scotland Yard tells the Mail it is preparing "for a rise in the 'malicious, negligent or reckless' use" of drones and sketching out new guidelines for coping with the UAV Revolution.
Video of a drone hovering in the Connecticut woods firing a handgun went viral in July. Austin Haughwout, the 18-year-old who built it, modestly said it was his simple, homespun "multi-rotor with a semi-automatic handgun mounted on it," no big deal. Haughwout, who has a raucous history with his pet flying machines, was later arrested, but that had nothing to do with his gun-toting drone.
The drone in Haughwout's viral video may (at the moment) be perfectly legal because no one has been too worried about artisanal flying machines wielding handguns--unless, perhaps, they caught this video of an experimental machine gun drone posted on YouTube three years ago.
Okay, so the future still may be bright, but we'll have to dodge drones.
Photos by Screen grab