8 Creepy Spy Technologies That Can Be Hitched to Your Neighborhood Drones
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7. Gorgon Stare: The Gorgon Stare is similar to ARGUS-IS, except that it's named after a monster that can turn people to stone, rather than merely a giant with 100 all-seeing eyes. Hitched to Reaper drones, Gorgon Stare is supposed to collect information from an entire small town or city and send data to troops in the field and to ground stations for deeper analysis. "Gorgon Stare will be looking at a whole city, so there will be no way for the adversary to know what we're looking at, and we can see everything," an Air Force general told the Washington Post.
(Gorgon Stare is also notable for failing spectacularly the first time it was tested, deemed "not operationally effective" by DoD testers, in a memo obtained by Winslow Wheeler, director of the Center for Defense Information. The Air Force claimed it could be fixed.)
8. Wide Area Aerial Surveillance System (WAASS): ARGUS-IS and Gorgon Stare are planned for Afghanistan, but as Wired reported in January, the Department of Homeland Security has inquired about a similar system that can scan large swathes of land in the US. The agency has solicited industry feedback on the possibility of a surveillance system that does the following:
The primary objective of WAASS is to provide persistent, long-term surveillance over urban and rural terrain at least the size of 16 km2. The surveillance system shall have an electro-optical capability for daylight missions but can have an infrared capability for day or night operations. The sensor shall integrate with an airborne platform for data gathering. The imagery data shall be displayed at a DHS operations center and have the capability for forensic analysis within 36 hours of the flight.
As Spencer Ackerman points out, "If it’s starting to sound reminiscent of the spy tools the military has used in Iraq and Afghanistan, it should."