Don’t be surprised if you catch a federal fleet of sneaky spy drones soaring over your head in the near future, but don’t be too terrified — it’s all in the name of public safety. . . .
According to a request for information published on the Federal Business Opportunities website recently, the DHS is determined to begin drone tests over the military base soon and is seeking submissions from drone makers that don’t mind making a few bucks by having their products put into the US airspace to conduct sweeping surveillance. . . .
Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told a House Committee panel in July that the DHS was “looking at drones that could be utilized to give us situational awareness in a large public safety [matter] or disaster” and the next piece of the puzzle is already being put into place. With their latest solicitation, the DHS acknowledges that it is specifically testing a “Robotic Aircraft For Public Safety,” but the components necessary to be considered suggest that any drone adopted by the agency will be brought in for sweeping surveillance.
The solicitation request requires that all drones be equipped with Electro-Optical/Infra-Red sensors, as well as the technology to sniff out certain chemicals from thousands of feet from above. The UAV must also have an integrated laser designator, can be hand-launched by a single person and must be able to be remotely managed by a pilot with only one day of training.