According to a Reuters report, the Miami police department could be the first to use a new spy-in-the-sky technology to monitor people and fight crime.
The new spy technology is the creation of Honeywell International and uses a pilotless flying drone that can hover, “stare” at and video record people using infrared sensors.
The Miami spy drone is expected to start test-monitoring areas of the Florida Everglades in the near future, but first it must be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Once approved, the spy drone will likely be used in the city of Miami for full-fledged crime fighting activities.
Miami Police spokesman Juan Villalba said “Our intentions are to use it only in tactical situations as an extra set of eyes.”
The wingless Honeywell spy drone fits inside a backpack and can takeoff and land vertically. It is ideally suited for use by SWAT teams in hostage situations.
The US military has successfully used similar manless spy drones in Iraq and Afghanistan and law enforcement officials have been interested in using the same technology to fight crime in US urban areas.
The CIA admits that it developed a dragonfly-sized spy drone known as the “Insectohopter” for laser-guided spy activities as far back as the 1970s.
The use of these drones in US cities raises numerous safety and privacy concerns.
“You don’t want one of these coming down on grandma’s windshield when she’s on her way to the grocery store,” said Doug Davis, program manager for the FAA’s unmanned aerial systems.
Privacy advocates say rules and laws need to be created to protect civil liberties during surveillance operations.