Published On: Thu, May 17th, 2012

Surveillance drone spotted over Chicago suburb

Amateur video posted on YouTube over the weekend seems to suggest that unmanned surveillance drones might be flying over Chicago’s skies for the NATO summit this weekend. The video, filmed in north suburban Elgin, shows what looks like a drone similar to the MQ-1 Predator, which is used in combat operations across the globe, but also has been used for reconnaissance. Homeland Security uses similar drones in border patrol operations.

The push to use drones in surveillance and other operations over the United States has increased greatly the past few years. Business Week reports this week the FAA announced changes to broaden regulations which would allow more domestic use of non-military drones. A law passed by Congress in February encourages adapting drone technology used in Iraq and Afghanistan and integrating drones into the aviation system by 2015.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart expressed interest in acquiring drones for his department late last year. Fox News reported in November Dart had been negotiating for four months with Homeland Security for a grant to purchase one or two drones. “It’s the quickest and best way to get more efficient,” Dart told Fox. “It’d be so easy and cost effective to utilize that (drones) over and over again.” He also suggested using the drones in finding missing children and executing search warrants.


WMCH drone photo by Clément Bucco-Lechat via wikimedia commons

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