back to article We want weaponised urban drones flying through your house, says UK defence ministry as it waves a fistful of banknotes

The UK's Ministry of Defence has £900,000 for any companies willing to supply it with weaponised drones capable of flitting around “urban environments” and even poking their electronic noses inside shopping centres and private houses. Positioned as three "challenges" for industry to overcome, the MoD hopes to attract drone …

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  1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Dystopian future

    I have a mental image (probably from some film I saw) of the protagonist in his dingy apartment, turning towards the (un-curtained) window and seeing a black drone hovering outside, with its camera aimed at him.

    We're too close to this already, I don't think I'd be willing to help speed its arrival for 150k

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dystopian future

      I'm sure the people at the MoD are having wet dreams about a dragonfly-like drone that can kill someone with a poison dart like the hunter-seeker from Dune. It's only a matter of time.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Dystopian future

        Check out Salvation on netflix... they just used one to kill the president?

        1. IGotOut Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Dystopian future

          The president is dead? Wahooo...oh I mean "my thoughts and prayers etc. etc."

          1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
            Angel

            Re: Dystopian future

            He's not dead, he's just moved on to developing exclusive resort communities and exciting residential real estate properties in the afterlife!

          2. Someone Else Silver badge
            Pint

            @IGotOut -- Re: Dystopian future

            Icon says it all - - - ->

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dystopian future

        >people at the MoD are having wet dreams

        Imagine a cheap $100 drone programmed to sit in sleep mode for weeks/months, programmed to take off look for blue/green/brown uniform or a helmet and aim for the face - where it short circuits its lithium battery or detonates a shot-gun shell of powder. All of which can be bought, imported, assembled by anyone with no suspicious or restricted materials.

        Is this likely to be used by or against an official army with a mutli $Bn defence budget fighting against insurgents in an urban environment ?

        1. Jonathon Green
          Trollface

          Oooooh! I think know the answer to this one, is it...

          “Is this likely to be used by or against an official army with a mutli $Bn defence budget fighting against insurgents in an urban environment ?”

          Yes.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Oooooh! I think know the answer to this one, is it...

            It does seem a little like the government saying "shipping army explosives to Iraq is expensive, here is a grant to come up with a way of making explosive using only items readily available in a Middle Eastern supermarket"

            1. Rich 11 Silver badge

              Re: Oooooh! I think know the answer to this one, is it...

              come up with a way of making explosive using only items readily available in a Middle Eastern supermarket

              In the markets of Peshawar these items are commonly known as 'explosives'. You can find them on the shelves just behind the gun racks.

        2. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: Dystopian future

          >Imagine a cheap $100 drone

          Oh dear. For that kind of money you'll need to either import the unit from China or assemble from Chinese components. That's not going to go down well at the Ministry.

        3. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Dystopian future

          Ah, you've read Kill Decision then...

      3. NoneSuch Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Dystopian future

        Some bloke tried to demo his system at Gatwick. It wasn't received well.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Dystopian future

          >Some bloke tried to demo his system at Gatwick. It wasn't received well.

          I don't know, an invisible to police drone that can be at targets 30mi apart at the same time seems pretty effective as a weapon

      4. RegGuy1 Silver badge

        Re: Dystopian future

        Novichock. Then you won't need those pesky perfume bottles.

        Just load that bank of drones, launch the mother ship, and...

      5. Flywheel Silver badge
        Terminator

        Re: Dystopian future

        If it's awarded to Crapita (and why wouldn't it?) you can look forward to a 0.5Kg robotic gnat that flies in random directions. Guidance and weapons to come in Phase 2, obvs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't think I'd be willing to help speed its arrival for 150k

      don't worry, there'll be PLENTY of those scrambling to participate. After all, the race is on, and it's only going in one direction. After all, you don't want our streets to be invaded by RUSSIAN!!! or CHINESE!!! drones killing our children and we-can't-do-anything-about-it, DO YOU!?

      And, says the PM, with his usual bright smile and brisk voice, I'm ABSOLUTELY positive that this weapon capability will render all, practically all other weapons useless, and so that we can live in everlasting peace and prosperity at last!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I don't think I'd be willing to help speed its arrival for 150k

        Yeah, but with or without drones we will still be living with the Brexit shit around our necks.

        So a drone may not kil you, but those at the very bottom are going to struggle even more.

        Brexit, brought to you by those old white racists that want us to bring back 1955.

        1. idiottaxpayerhere previously ishtiaq/theghostdeejay

          Re: I don't think I'd be willing to help speed its arrival for 150k

          @A/C

          Help me out please.How did the topic of weaponised drones get turned into a Brexit thing?

          Just saying

          Cheers… Ishy

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I don't think I'd be willing to help speed its arrival for 150k

          Really? As plenty of non whites voted for Brexit, particularly those from SE Asia who were promised unlimited immigration to bring in staff from India etc....

          Going back to 1955 (or earlier) morally isn't just restricted to elderly white men, its also something beloved by many UK feminists, who love the idea of a feminist led Jane Austen type society

          1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

            Re: I don't think I'd be willing to help speed its arrival for 150k

            Anon, are you all right? What on earth is a 'feminist-led Jane Austen type society'? Women as CEOs, but with Empire waistlines?

            1. Ian Mason
              Joke

              Re: ... but with Empire waistlines?

              And heaving bosoms. Please. Pretty please.

              1. quxinot Silver badge

                Re: ... but with Empire waistlines?

                Okay, that's got us Brexit, race, and sex.

                Someone mention Trump so that I can yell "Bingo!" and walk out.

                1. Rich 11 Silver badge

                  Re: ... but with Empire waistlines?

                  Trump.

                  1. Citizen99

                    Re: ... but with Empire waistlines?

                    Eye thenk yew

            2. TDog

              Re: I don't think I'd be willing to help speed its arrival for 150k

              Joan Hunter Dunn and John Betjeman in that order.

      2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: I don't think I'd be willing to help speed its arrival for 150k

        "Mr President, we must not allow a drone gap!"

    3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Dystopian future

      You may have been thinking of Dark Angel. Although the TV series almost pre-dates mobile phones (they appear in series 2) it has aged well.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dystopian future

        Hardly.

        By 2000 I'd already worked my way through 2 Panasonic GSM handsets (a J and a G series) and a Nokia 6110 and was then on my 1st Triband phone that also worked Stateside. ( A Motorola Timeport.)

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Dystopian future

        I had my first mobile phone 8 years before Dark Angel came out.

        Heck, the X-Files used mobile phones extensively!

    4. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Dystopian future

      We don't need a dystopian future, we moved to Dystopia a few years back, but nobody noticed until it was too late.

      As an aside, have a look at Daniel Suarez "Kill Decision", an excellent novel about a dystopian near future, where AI controlled drones are used to escalate tensions between the Middle East and the USA.

  2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Perfectly safe

    <pollyanna-voice>Weaponised drones in a civilian environment. I'm sure that will never, ever go wrong.</pollyanna-voice>

    1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      Re: Perfectly safe

      I'm sure this tech will never end up in the hands of drug gangs and organized crime either.

      1. DS999

        Re: Perfectly safe

        Whether or not this gets built, it is only a matter of time before a drug gang buys a drone, packs it with as much high explosive as it can carry, flies it over the villa or vehicle of a rival drug lord, and detonates it.

    2. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: Perfectly safe

      <pollyanna-voice>Weaponised drones in a civilian environment. I'm sure that will never, ever go wrong go wrong go wrong go wrong wrong wrong go.</pollyanna-voice>

  3. ITS Retired
    Black Helicopters

    Why does new technology always seems to be developed for death and destruction?

    Have we run out of peaceful uses for it already?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Why does new technology always seems to be developed for death and destruction?

      Once all the porn uses have been exhausted

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Once all the porn uses have been exhausted

        There are porn-drones!?

        Mind you, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised [see #34]

        -

        :-)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why does new technology always seems to be developed for death and destruction?

        Porn with a drone. On ice. Also availabe on bbc iplayer.

  4. overunder Silver badge

    So... free guns!!??!

    As an American, I love free guns! As soon as a winner is decided, I finally know who I can contract out my EMP project to!

    Go whitey!

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: So... free guns!!??!

      OK, so this may have been sarcasm. If it was, it's just not funny. If it is not, you're Donald tRump, and I claim my $5.

  5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Why do these military procurement stories remind me of Feynman's story of going to some reception or other and talking to an armny bod who waid they just wanted the scientists to come up with a way of using sand as tank fuel?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Tank fuel? Sure. Just capture the heat generated by feeding the tank's supply of sand into a vat of hydrofluoric acid.

  6. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    In other news...

    Sales on Cricket Bats and Louisiana Sluggers and drone signal jammers have increased by 100%.

    Drones are a General/Wing Commander's wet dream but... they aren't the solution for everything.

    1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: In other news...

      Drones don't need to be controlled remotely, so jammers are no use. Just give it the target coordinates and let it navigate itself around buildings etc. It is not significantly more complex than a car's GPS.

      1. Outer mongolian custard monster from outer space (honest)

        Re: In other news...

        Says someone who's never had to knock their drone flying a "clear" gps map path out of a tree with a stick.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: In other news...

          No, never. But then I take trees into account when I plan the flight. Just as I would take overhead cables and bridges etc. into account if planning a route along an urban street. The fact remains that it can be easily done without any need for real-time remote control.

  7. Thomas PinkOne

    Dominic Cummings will be rubbing his hands in glee

    So much cheaper than redundancy payments for senior civil servants

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Dominic Cummings will be rubbing his hands in glee

      These little devices can also take out those pregnant women who decide to have a very small glass of wine.

  8. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Reading between the lines ..... but don't forget to remember, pay peanuts, get monkeys

    If they want clean skin 00 agents with a whole range of future smarts, why doesn't the MOD just advertise for them normally like everyone else does?

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