As of January 14th, 2014, New Brunswick has become the new testing site for drones. For those of you who do not know what a drone is, it is a remote-controlled unmanned aircraft or missile. Each drone is is slightly different and serve different purposes. They are used in areas where having a plane or helicopter would be too difficult or risky. The Federal Aviation Administration is allowing the drones to be tested certain colleges, which includes Rutgers, Virginia Tech, and the University of Maryland. These universities have choices though in which specific areas they wish for the drones to patrol – for example, Rutgers can choose to have the drones patrol over Cook/Douglass, but not allow them to be on Busch.
Drones are used to provide a 24-hour surveillance in the sky looking down over the areas, seven days a week. Each aircraft can stay afloat up to 17 hours at a time, loitering over an area and sending back real-time images and videos of what is happening below to the government. They are used to check roadside bombs or devices on landing areas, to listen to phone conversations, and follow suspected insurgents. Because they are mostly used by the United States Air Force and Royal Air Force, it is unknown to the public why they are sent to New Brunswick.
They range from small intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance craft, some light enough to be launched by hand, to medium-sized armed drones and large spy planes. The drones consider geography, geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk.
Though the government considers the use of drones to be positive, it could also been seen as negative to the public – they could be “spying” on us, similar to the whole situation with the NSA looking over the internet.
Is there a specific reason why they chose New Brunswick to look over? Are they targeting selected areas, or picking areas at random? Why are drones necessary? What do you think?