Category: Features

The Presidential Candidates on Drones

The current U.S. administration’s use of armed surveillance drones for military operations—in particular the hundreds of covert targeted killings that have been conducted outside of declared war zones—is a defining dimension of Barack Obama’s presidency. Since 2009, drones have served…

Law Enforcement Robots Datasheet

        Background Robots are an increasingly common sight in U.S. police departments. These unmanned ground vehicles are used for roles that are deemed too hazardous for law enforcement officers, such as inspecting and disarming explosive ordnance. The…

Drone Smuggling: Inside Illegal Exports

By Dan Gettinger On November 1, 2015, Pei Qi “Paul” Ma, the owner and manager of an import/export business based in Xi’an, China, was arrested by police at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as he attempted to board a flight to Las…

The Drone Revolutions

By Arthur Holland Michel The Drone Revolutions was an advanced undergraduate seminar organized by the Center for the Study of the Drone, taught in the Human Rights Program at Bard College during the Spring 2016 semester. The class was led…

Visiting DC Drone Day

By Dan Gettinger On May 7, 2016, a group of model aircraft hobbyists gathered at Walt Good Field in Boyds, Maryland to celebrate the D.C. Drone Day. The small airfield, situated some 22 miles outside of Washington, D.C., where rows…

More of the Same: The UN Debate on Lethal Robots

By Kelley Sayler From April 11 to 15, representatives from 95 states and numerous non-governmental organizations gathered in Geneva for the third UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons’ Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). As outlined by…

Analysis of New Drone Incident Reports

By Arthur Holland Michel and Dan Gettinger On Friday, March 25, the Federal Aviation Administration released 582 new reports of incidents involving unmanned aircraft in the U.S. airspace system. These reports date from August 21, 2015 to January 31, 2016. We…

The American Drone Base in Cameroon

Imagery Update         By Dan Gettinger Garoua, a city in northern Cameroon, lies along the Benue River approximately 30 miles east of the Nigerian border. Across the runway from the main terminal at Garoua International Airport sits a…

Drone Spending in the FY17 Defense Budget

  On February 9, 2016, President Obama unveiled the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget. The proposed request includes $587.2 billion in military spending, which is split between a $523.9 billion base budget and a $58.8 billion Overseas Contingency Operations…

The Drones of the Atomic Age

By Dan Gettinger Eight minutes after the detonation of Gilda at Bikini Atoll on July 1, 1946, a fleet of U.S. B-17 Flying Fortresses and F6F Hellcat fighters approached the rising mushroom cloud. The first B-17 entered the cloud at 24,000…

The Surrogate Predator Program

By Dan Gettinger Operating Predator and Reaper drones over the battlefield involves dozens of people. One of the most difficult and crucial jobs within this network is that of the Joint Tactical Air Controller, or JTAC. These personnel serve as…

2015 Drone Year in Review

By Arthur Holland Michel and Dan Gettinger 2015 was a very busy year in the drone world. The U.S. domestic commercial drone industry began to take shape, military drone exports grew significantly, the technology advanced in leaps and bounds, and…