I love paying taxes! My money goes to great things like parks, and public libraries, and military projects that will almost certainly never materialise because they are so absurd. Example: tiny flying drones that spray invisible terrorist-tracking fairy dust. Super!
The Air Force has a hard time shooting the right thing. It's tough! Things on the ground are very far away and tiny when you're a drone. It's hard to tell who's a terrorist, and who's a baby. So what if we could, like, spray invisible dust on a bad guy, which only the drone could see? This idea of microscopic, microdrone-dropped targeting mist, isn't the result of a DARPA bong session. It's very real.
The military's been mulling over this preposterous pitch for years now. In 2007, the US Special Operations Command proposed dropping hidden perfume onto targets. There's also talk of "smart dust" - itsy bitsy sensors, visible from the sky.
Now, you have to wonder - if you could design a vehicle so precise, that could so precisely hit a person with sensor dust or bioreactive perfume or whatever the hell, why not just kill them right there?
Hummingbird-like drones exist (as prototypes), but the notion that the Pentagon will be able to both perfect them and get them equipped with this fantastical tagging agent anytime soon and for anything resembling affordable is laughable. Well, laughable if $US660 million in tax money hadn't already been dumped into it. This is the kind of project that runs away with military imaginations (and our money), no matter how well-intentioned it is on paper.
Minimizing the number of innocent people who get killed by drones, and maximizing the number of enemies who do, is very important. But any idea that calls for the development of "dust" and "perfume" in the context of aerial drone strikes is the stuff of James Bond amazement, not military future. [via Danger Room]