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A military surveillance drone once built by the Pentagon, the Gorgon Stare, is the eye-in-the-sky, that can simultaneously track 1,000 moving targets. It is based on a wide-area motion imagery (WAMI) technology, that allows a camera, which has had its power greatly expanded, to be attached to a drone — and can then watch and record a massive area.
The technology expands the camera aperture, so an entire city can be watched at once. Capable of zooming in on particular parts of the imagery on the ground it supplies images with great detail while still being able to record everything else.
The Gorgon Stare’s resolution is 1.8 billion pixels or 1.8 gigapixels, which is 150 times more powerful than an iPhone.
The original purpose was to track insurgents across conflict zones, as a counter terrorism tool, and to help prevent IED (improvised explosive device) attacks. But observer.com has been asking if the drone will soon be used to track citizens’ movements in American cities. Surveillance drones raise a host of significant privacy and civil liberties issues. One major problem? Privacy laws have not evolved at the same rapid pace of drone technology, leaving law enforcement with the belief that they can use drones to spy on citizens without the benefit of warrants or legal processes.
Alarming stats from the U.K. is that an average Londoner is caught on security cameras over 300 times a day, while in the U.S., an average American citizen might be caught on camera more than 75 times.
A recent book by Holland Michel about the Gorgon Stare UAV emphasizes the contradiction between military scientists’ good intentions and a technology based on a dystopian Hollywood plot, claiming that the aircraft’s concept follows a 1998 Hollywood thriller, Enemy of the State.
Although investment in WAMI is “furious and ongoing”, he notes, “the Air Force declined repeated requests for even an approximate indication of WAMI’s impact on the battlefield”, as cited by nature.com.