Earlier this month, a 14-second video entitled “Flying Gun” was posted on YouTube. It shows a flying quadcopter outfitted with a handgun firing four shots. Now, it’s become a Federal Aviation Administration investigation.
The July 10 video, which currently has around two million views, shows a hovering robot in the woods with a semiautomatic handgun attached to it. The flying-and-shooting multirotor was built by an 18-year-old Connecticut mechanical engineering student, Agence France-Presse reports.
DIY inventors and tinkerers produce impressive, albeit dangerous, gadgets and experiments on YouTube all the time. (We’ve covered many of them.) So, what makes this different, assuming everything was built and tested in a safe environment? Well, that’s what the FAA is trying to figure out: If this particular case of weaponising an unmanned aerial vehicle is illegal. According to local reports, Connecticut police say no state laws were broken here.
Like any emerging technology, drones and other UAVs can be used for good or for potentially illegal purposes. And in these early days, we’ll see both. We need to aggressively nail down rules and regulations — but we shouldn’t slip into dystopian panic yet, either. As for the crafty teen who built this quadcopter? The FAA says it’s still looking into the UAV — but you can be sure that no matter the outcome, this won’t be its last investigation of a souped-up quadcopter.