New DHS Drones to ID Firearms Carriers

CPB (Part of the DHS) Predator B drone (courtesy

Well d’uh. Why wouldn’t the Department of Homeland Security want their Predator B drones–currently deployed on our northern and southern borders—to be able to ID individual groundlings and detect whether or not the two-legged targets are carrying firearms? Click here for proof, if proof be needed, that tin hat wearers need to buy a separate tin hat for their concealed carry gun. Here’s the relevant bit of the spec sheet for companies looking to build Big Brother’s next-gen eye in the sky: “ Shall (T) be capable of identifying a standing human being at night as likely armed or not (based on position of arms) at a slant range of one and a half times the specified Operating Altitude.” Your tax money ($59b per year) hard at work. All part of the DHS mission: “Our duties are wide-ranging, but our goal is clear: a safer, more secure America, which is resilient against terrorism and other potential threats.” Note to the DHS: define “potential” and “threat.”


  1. avatar Cort says:

    Does this remind anybody else of the beginning of 1984, where the helicopter floats from window to window, looking in on people? Big Brother is Watching!

    1. avatar Jarhead1982 says:

      Once you catch one of them birds, wonder if they are edible if you cook them long enough?

      1. avatar Cort says:

        Only one way to find out, Jarhead. 😀

        1. avatar Jarhead1982 says:

          LOL, we think alike, dats good;)

    2. avatar Herb says:

      I read “1984” in high school, flew Hueys in Vietnam, and that helicopter hovering menacingly outside the window with its canopy blacked out is the most chilling memory I have of that movie. FWIW, Orwell’s widow held the copyrights and insisted that the film actually made in 1984 had to show only the technology as of 1949, the year he published his dystopia novel. Helicopters were still a novelty, and Orwell wrote of them as the combat aircraft of the future, who knew?

  2. avatar William says:

    How long before one of these collides with an airliner, I wonder? They’re gonna outnumber passenger planes in a few years, if we can’t stop it.

  3. avatar Brian S says:

    why deport illegal aliens, secure the border, and end the drug war when we can build a multi-trillion dollar prison utopia?

    1. avatar Brian S says:

      The irony continues as I look at some smug weirdo in an ad for “online degrees in homeland security – AMU” just to the right of this article.

      1. avatar thatoneguy says:

        I could be mistaken, but I think a lot of ad services use your browsing history to generate ad content relevant to you.

  4. avatar Nick says:

    And how does this actually work?

  5. avatar Don says:

    Sooooo…. this is not metal detectors in the sky. This is essentially posture recognition which is a pretty common topic in the science of computer vision. This is for the purposes of estimating whether or not someone at a distance is carrying a rifle and is the machine equivalent to looking at a picture of someone far away and judging whether or not they are carrying a rifle. The applications are to look for snipers, people guarding contraband, etc. I actually have tinfoil had, a fedora in fact, because you have to shield your head from RADAR emissions in style, but this here is not what you think it is.

    1. avatar LC Judas says:

      Definitely, Don. I was expecting a huge picture database of people with gun paperwork as an identifier not radar silhouette style logic.

      1. avatar Don says:

        These kinds of projects are good because they in theory let the machine alert soldiers to the presence of snipers and let the coast guard tell if someone is on a boat fishing rather than holding an AK across their lap. Vision based gait analysis, which looks to see if a person’s gait matches their proportions can help us determine if some chick under a burka is just a chick or actually some guy with 40lbs of explosives packed on his frame and a bone for martyrdom. Just like guns, all technology powerful enough to be useful can also be misused for evil, but the reality is that there are way more good people out there than bad and this kind of stuff saves lives, just like guns. And where the rubber meets the road where you have people (soldiers) volunteering to stick their heads up in the places where snipers are there to shoot them trying to rid the world of bomb makers that kill tons of innocent people every month, the chances of this technology being in the hands of a “good person” is even greater.

    2. avatar 16V says:

      I’ll see if I can locate any white papers on the methodology that’s moving to the fore.

      Meanwhile, your gat always carries a different heat sig than you do, unless you do the ‘rectal embed’ carry. As such, if you think the tech that allows sensors that look out billions of light-years and detect radiation are limited to use by NASA, I have news for you.

      Maybe it is just a gait/stance/stride analysis – that is how my tiny human brain figures out who’s carrying. But, given the level of off-the-shelf tech, I highly doubt it, because you don’t need nearly the analysis to do IR detection of a metal object that you do of someone’s walk.

  6. avatar Rob Pincus says:


    “(based on position of arms)”, as in: Unless you are standing on your balcony with an AR like a sentry, this isn’t about you. So, yes, ‘Tin Foil Hat” types need to worry.

    1. avatar mountocean says:

      Problem is I carry my rifle exactly how I carry a swaddled infant.

      1. avatar Josh says:

        Heh. I think I’ll carry my next baby tactically, too.

      2. avatar anonymous says:

        > I think I’ll carry my next baby tactically, too.

        Better hope that Lon Horiuchi doesn’t become a drone pilot…

    2. avatar John says:

      I think I’ll be careful how I carry my hoe while walking back through the gloaming after a really fun session of assassinating weeds.

      I wonder if carrying my long pole tree trimmer would trigger a SAM alert. Probably get a hellfire missile up my ass if Air Force One is on final going into Wright Pat.

    3. avatar Matt in SD says:

      If you’ve got nothing to hide…right?

      Does it say arms as in where you position your bodily arms or how you carry a firearm? For example, maybe it can detect if you have it slung over your shoulder or in your arms but not a pistol in your pocket or otherwise concealed?

    4. avatar mashashin says:

      or your hunting

  7. avatar Sixpack70 says:

    Looks like it’s time to buy a new roll of tinfoil.

  8. avatar AlphaGeek says:

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to include a requirement for imaging-analysis software features to flag people likely to be carrying a rifle. This was state-of-the-art in 2010, not exactly ground-breaking stuff in imaging analysis these days.

    To put it another way: if we’re serious about defending our borders (especially the southern one) AND we’re not just faking outrage at the deaths of border-patrol officers, then we should be supportive of tech which may give those officers advance warning that the wetbacks or mules are accompanied by armed BGs.

    Also: readers in urban and suburban areas should assume that they will be captured on camera at least 2 and as many as 50 times per hour while mobile on foot or bicycle. This counts residential, private-property, and state-owned cameras. No drones required.

    1. avatar Greg Camp says:

      You see no problem with those things?

    2. avatar Don says:

      Curious, do you work in imaging and computer vision?

  9. avatar Rizzy says:

    Now will they be able to see ATF agents arming Cartel members, or will they be programmed to ignore them?

    1. avatar Jarhead1982 says:

      They will need a donut in hand profile to recognize the BATF!

      1. avatar Accur81 says:

        Excuse me! A donut AND coffee. Carry, on.

        1. avatar AlphaGeek says:

          Hopefully your department is equipping patrol officers with the new assault coffee mugs (the ones with a Thing That Goes Up to hold the donut) in case you need a hand free to call for backup. Or more donuts. 🙂

        2. avatar Jarhead1982 says:

          True DAT!

        3. avatar jwm says:

          Ummm, Do-nuts, drool.

    2. avatar anonymous says:

      > or will they be programmed to ignore them?

      They will be programmed with the following Prime Directives:

      1. “Serve the public trust”
      2. “Protect the innocent”
      3. “Uphold the law”
      4. (Classified)

  10. avatar Fug says:

    Krink pistol with a sling, anyone?

    1. avatar disthunder says:

      As soon as that damn form 1 gets here, its on!

  11. avatar Randy Drescher says:

    Will it pick up 8 rounds in a mag that should only have 7? This should be a priority, damned the drug wars, damed the robberies, we need a plan….or at least a pres. that doesn’t look like he’s lost it, Randy

  12. avatar Tim says:

    So I guess this is why we should be allowed to own surface to air missiles.

    1. avatar AlphaGeek says:

      Conversely, now I understand why California legislators found it necessary to outlaw 50BMG rifles. In their infinite wisdom and foresight, our betters predicted the day would come when even Californians would be so annoyed by the domestic use of surveillance drones that they would consider shooting them down.

      No. Wait. That’s not it. Somebody watched Robocop on late-night cable, had a nightmare, and introduced a bill the next day.

      One of these is disturbingly close to the truth. I’ll leave it up to the reader to discern which.

      1. avatar Sixpack70 says:

        It is actually not that easy to shoot a moving aerial target. Even if you do hit the drone, unless you cause catastrophic damage or hit a vital area it will continue to fly. Also at the altitude most of these drones fly, they will look like a speck in the sky.

        1. avatar AlphaGeek says:

          Here in the Bay Area, I could have a computer-vision hacker working with a robotics guy to get a tracking mount built in a week. 🙂

        2. avatar 16V says:

          Thanks AlphaGeek, I knew there were still a few rebels there…

          It’s complicated if you, a human, try to figure the lead, wind, and drop for a drone. A computer that laser ranges and determines target velocity, altitude, and windspeed? Not so challenging at all.

          Car computers have been able to time the firing of individual cylinders at 6K+ RPMs for over 20 years. Which is far less computing than is needed to hit a drone traveling a path at a speed.

        3. avatar Don says:

          A week? You west coast guys must be really laid back.

      2. avatar JAS says:

        Used my mildot calculator on it. The predator B is 34 feet long and flies ~40,000 feet/13,333 yards. looking straight overhead that’s .85 mils :).

  13. avatar Lance says:

    Skynet is coming!!!

  14. avatar Accur81 says:

    All this money “securing” the border and we don’t deport in CA unless a violent felony is committed. Sometimes not even then.

  15. avatar Totenglocke says:

    All part of the DHS mission: “Our duties are wide-ranging, but our goal is clear: a safer, more secure America, which is resilient against terrorism and other potential threats.”

    Wait, I remember this one – they’re quoting the Emperor in Star Wars Episode III – “We stand on the threshold of a new beginning. In order to ensure our security and continuing stability, the Republic will be reorganized into the first Galactic Empire, for a safe and secure society, which I assure you will last for ten thousand years.

  16. avatar Sol says:

    i just don’t get how immigration and customs enforcement got a name change to DHS and is suddenly patrolling the entire US instead of protecting the border! i don’t get it!

  17. avatar In Memphis says:

    I better be careful pushing my stretcher around when Im not near a hospital. Could have crates of scary black guns. Sad thing is, an ambulance would almost be perfect for smuggling.

    1. avatar OHgunner says:

      Time to invest in a hurst. Imagine how many rifles and pistols fit in a casket.

  18. avatar IndyEric says:

    How does the tail tilt/roll like that independent of the rest of the air-frame?

  19. avatar Eddie D. says:

    Now I don’t live in New York so I am not subject to Bloomberg’s random “Stop and Frisk” program but the question I have is, am I know subject to Obama’s Predator drone random arm searches. I mean if I am walking my trusty dog down the street with my trusty concealed XDM 40. and one of these drones is doing a fly by are they committing an illegal search of my body? Is there a chance that the Predator drone will be another cog in the wheel for Obama’s sweeping Gun Control measures?

  20. avatar Slab Rankle says:

    It’s obvious that the real raison d’etre for the DHS is to suppress any domestic insurrection and defend the government from the people. Never mind the drones, they don’t need 2700 armored trucks just to protect us from a few ragheads.

  21. avatar Joe Grine says:

    Seems to me that Obama is the single biggest “potential threat” to our nation.

  22. avatar Aharon says:

    Years ago, I read a sci-fi book published by the JPFO which was about the future America. People wore extra large wide hats and dark sunglasses to avoid the cameras recording their every step. It didn’t help that everyone was required to have a crystal chip embedded in their hand that recorded their location and movement.

  23. avatar Dave S says:

    when they arm them with single firing laser tracking mini guns with frangible ammo we need to get off the streets.

  24. avatar Greg Camp says:

    Saying that we should be able to own SAMs used to sound wacky, but now this. SAMs, barrage balloons, quad 20mm cannon–or let’s just go with an EMP device to scramble the dingus’s circuits.

  25. avatar Silver says:

    I find myself saying this alot, something I would never have fathomed saying only a few years ago:

    God, I hate this country.

  26. avatar JAS says:

    DHS is now a defacto paramilitary organization, complete with it’s own air force. A tidy way around posse comitatus. And all in the name of “our” safety, for “our” own good……

  27. avatar 7350 says:

    FYI, the (T) is requirements speak for “threshold,” or the minum requirement that the platform must meet while being developed. I did a quick search for their desired objective (O), but I didn’t see it. There may be more.

  28. avatar Ryan says:

    Performance requirements specs from 2005. I’m betting that the DHS and CBP are fielding far more capable UAV’s.

  29. avatar InBox485 says:

    Rectal cranial inversion on this article. Arms detection is for active carry of long guns. neither slung nor concealed would be detected. This if anything should point to the limited capabilities of these drones people are so worried about.

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