Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Amsterdam Police Use "Drone" Craft Against Squatters

(Photos: Karen Eliot)

Amsterdam cops used an unmanned "drone" aircraft while evicting squatters from a building yesterday. It's equipped with a little camera that feeds live images back to a laptop on the ground.

They say it was the first time they've done this. Usually they would use a helicopter, but that was impossible because of low-hanging clouds.

(Right, like that's never happened in Holland before!)

Unfortunately none of the Dutch stories say exactly what they were using the thing for! I would presume for the police to check out what awaits them in the upper floors of the building.

Squatters sometimes resist evictions with some violence; and there was a big controversy after police accused squatters of "booby trapping" a roof to collapse during an eviction several months ago.

(Executive summary: the squatters denied it, and photo evidence to me appeared to back them up).

According to some of the websites writing about this, they tried to introduce these things in the U.S. but were blocked by the FAA. Anybody know more? In England apparently they've put them into use in the town of "Merseyside," but they have to follow rules laid down for toy planes, keeping the grounded person piloting them within a certain distance of the craft.

I just keep thinking of that scene at the start of The Empire Strikes Back, on "Ice Planet Hoth" when the little drone scoots along doing reconnaissance.

The company that makes these things, "Microdrones" of Germany.

Here's a BBC item on the product, which costs around $2,000. You could probably build it yourself for less, but you need a little know-how...

And if anyone was wondering, the squatters at Steven Biko square left peacefully; in fact they 'booby trapped' the door of the building with a heap of balloons as a joke.


Anonymous said...

Operated by means of a off-the-shelf RC control unit. Can somebody say: Dronejacking?

Laura K. said...

OK.. Deja vu! Go watch the movie Minority Report. You will know why I say this after Tom Cruise gets his new eyeballs :P

Toby Sterling said...


I was wondering about that too ... couldn't be very hard to knock one out of the sky with just a tennis ball or whatever, imo

Toby Sterling said...


I saw Minority Report not too long ago and loved it. Remember the eyeballs scene vividly but can't remember the drone ... it's kicking around my subconscious somewhere.

By the way, Tom Cruise: another actor everybody hates. I can't say I like him, but it frustrates me that nobody gives him credit for turning in one good performance after another. I don't care about the kooky Scientology stuff, all I'm saying is look at what a piece of crap Keanu Reeves is and people should be glad that at least Tom Cruise can deliver his lines and show appropriate facial expressions at the same time.