Drones Over America

When most Americans think of surveillance drones, it conjures up an image of a Predator drone in a far-off land unleashing a missile against a terrorist suspect. The last thing they think of is a flying surveillance vehicle over their own city. But an increasing number of federal, state, county and municipal police departments are purchasing drone surveillance vehicles of one sort or another to watch Americans. And a few have even discussed arming the drones.

Drones are an increasing fixture on the science fiction horizon, conjuring up images of the human-hating Skynet empowered with nuclear weapons in the Terminator movies. Interestingly, some industry leaders have already theorized about nuclear powered drones. For example, Lockheed-Martin’s Sandia National Laboratories carefully suggested in a study that they pursue nuclear powered drones. As the Canadian-based Ottowa Citizen summarized, “The project summary, which refers to ‘propulsion and power technologies that [go] well beyond existing hydrocarbon technologies,’ does not actually use the word ‘nuclear.’ But with unmistakable references to ‘safeguards,’ ‘decommissioning and disposal,’ and those unfavorable ‘political conditions,’ there is little doubt about the topic under discussion.”

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