DIY flying drones coming to a riot near you

November 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

Breaking news story? Why not put a call in for a robotic helicopter to be the public’s eye in the sky? For that reason there’s a lot to love about these images filmed by an amateur aerial drone hovering over a riot in the Polish capital Warsaw.

Floating above the chaos, the DIY ‘drone’ captures the live action of a three way clash between right wing youth, left wing youth and police in riot gear.

Apparently, this street battle in the heart of Warsaw happens every year on Poland’s Independence Day. A Polish friend says the violence has been escalating every year and she confirmed the video recording is of the city’s Constitution Square and its surroundings.

The two minute 40 second video shows what looks like a clash of medieval armies or a scene from the dystopian future world in the Alfonso Cuaron film, Children of Men. This amateur flying lens captures Molotov cocktails exploding and even a rocket as it flies narrowly over an official looking building.

The news agency Reuters reported that in the countdown to November 11, leftists, anarchists, pro-abortionists, Greens and gay-rights groups made their intentions known they would block a march by the All-Polish Youth and the National Radical Camp nationalist groups. BBC World reported the riots that transpired resulted in 40 police officers injured, 14 police cars destroyed and 210 arrests.

The mini-helicopter that took these images probably looks similar to this one here. We know from YouTube that its operator, who uses the handle latajakacamera, calls it a RoboKopter and, apart from the fact it makes a lot of noise, there’s precious little information.

Here’s another video taken on the same day, showing police in riot gear preparing to take on the demonstrators.

The ‘DIY drones’ phenomenon represents a futuristic fantasy, a world where remote controlled aircraft with powerful video cameras are in the hands of amateurs who use them to film events as they happen around us.

We think of remote controlled drones as something that militaries use to spy on their foes and to assassinate enemy operatives. But what the Warsaw videos show us is that flying drones in amateur hands can also have a myriad of non military uses – like watching a Polish riot remotely.

News organisations will be able to get to the locations quickly to record breaking news stories and live stream the images. They’ll be easier and faster to deploy than actual helicopters and can get closer to the action. Amateur content could also be plucked or embedded from video sharing platforms to supplement the news gathering.

While humans were in love with the possibilities of flight at the turn of the 20th Century, I am more than a little bit in love with the increasing prospect of amateur aerial drones giving us a bird’s eye view of the kinds of events that rock our world.


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