The video below showing a civilian operated drone chopper filming riots in Warsaw, Poland last Friday is a great example of the democratization of what was until very recently, military-grade tech. This is a straight up ISR drone that's flying high above the streets of a major city taking camera footage that was once the exclusive domain of high-priced news choppers and government helos.
This reminds me of a post I wrote at sister site DoDBuzz last year where experts -- speaking anonymously to encourage open and honest debate -- an Army conference on the future of warfare warned of the rise of civil UAVs and ever-shrinking ISR gear that could be used by non-state actors:
The first technology approach would be the use by terrorist groups of new forms of airborne attack. Except this time they would use model aircraft as “a homemade cruise missile” or even building a model sailplane out of plastic or composites with a pound or two of explosives and something to serve as shrapnel,” the presenter said. Such a craft could evade radar and penetrate no fly zones to hit specified targets such as “the next presidential inauguration,” he said. “Let’s call this a homemade cruise missile,” he added.Yup, I seem to recall someone trying to bring prediction to life earlier this year in Massachusetts.
I've heard other experts warn of militant groups like Hezbollah using ever-shrinking high-res video cameras mounted on civilian prop planes flying close to Lebanon's southern border to spy on targets inside Israel.
Heck, the little robo-copter shown above was used by the Libyan rebels to spy on Gadhafi's forces during the Libyan civil war -- the rebels needed minimal training to operate the drones.