A Jihadist Toy Story

UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles better known as drones are becoming pervasive on modern battlefields.

Until fairly recently, this kind of technology was only available to the military due to the high investment costs.

Chris Anderson doesn’t feel it should stay that way. His report, posted at Noah Shachtman’s blog Danger Room, points the way out of the military laboratories and into toy stores and children’s bedrooms. He presents his latest UAV construction with a remote controlled aircraft that flies using the computational intelligence supplied by a Lego Mindstorms NXT.

I took this first step this eve, throwing together the world’s first Lego autopilot.

HiTechnic is releasing a gyro sensor for the Lego Mindstorms NXT — which I haven’t received yet. So I’ve got a light sensor standing in for it in the picture, but the mechanicals are pretty much in place. Cool fact of the day: According to Google, this is the first time the phrase “Lego autopilot” has ever been used. I own this space!

This autopilot only controls the rudder, keeping the plane flying level when engaged and returning to the launch area. While the autopilot is disengaged, the servo arm controls the rudder under manual radio control as usual. But when you engage the autopilot (a third servo presses the “start” button on the NXT controller brick), the NXT servo drives the gear assembly above to move the entire R/C servo back and forth, while the R/C servo arm remains stationary. The effect is the same as if the R/C arm was moving, but the rudder is under Mindstorm control, not R/C control.

This is both really cool in a geeky way, it is also more then a little worrying.

How will the Bush administration react to this kind of news? Do we need to wonder and worry whether our teenage boys (and girls) are under FBI observation because they have ordered possible jihadist toys? Oh help me great God of conservative thought. WWDRD. What would Donald Rumsfeld Do?!

Great, Lego Drones. What’s next, armed robots in Israel? Oh, yeah. *sigh*

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