27 February 2007

Noah Shachtman caught this story from Flight Global over at Wired’s Danger Room blog:

German-headquartered SIM Security and Electronic System says it has sold an undisclosed number of its Sky-Eye quadrotor UAVs into China for use by a civilian police organisation. Total sales of the existing system, including the Chinese orders, have exceeded 30 units according to Yves Degroote, Brussels account manager for the firm.

Noah says:

Sales of drones are tightly controlled by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR. Companies usually have to get special clearance to market the things – even in friendly countries. I’m no ITAR expert, but I believe sales to countries like China are even more carefully monitored. About a year ago, officials at Yamaha in Japan were busted for shipping nine robo-copters to the Beijing regime.

Does anybody have any idea how you say “quadrotor UAV” in Chinese? Or would these just be called 天眼 after the brand name?

UPDATE: It’s China time in the Danger Room as Sharon Weinberger points to an English People’s Daily article on Chinese scientists success at controlling the flight of pigeons with brain implants. But they don’t have a picture, so I’ll help by adding the Chinese article.

Since China is rather short on pigeons (at least not in cages), obviously these are for overseas operations. The robocoptor won’t be noticed on the streets of Shanghai, but free flying pigeons would probably surprise the hell out of people. Check out the Shangdong Science and Technology University Robot Research Center website for things like the Electrical Powerline Repair Robotic Arms and other stuff that, so far, is nowhere near as cool or gross as a pigeon with a chip in its skull.

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