How To Make Surveillance Drones Less Frightening: Paint Them Pretty Colors

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Feb. 2 2012 1:01 PM

How To Make Surveillance Drones Less Frightening: Paint Them Pretty Colors

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Would bright colors make this unmanned aerial vehicle less frightening to civilians?

Photo by Elbit Systems Ltd. via Getty Images

Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, are increasingly making their way from the battlefield to the home front. Here in the United States, the FAA is working on new proposed rules governing unmanned aerial vehicles. The rules, which could make drones available to law enforcement and other interests, were supposed to be released soon, but now won’t be available until at least the spring.

The thought of drones in civilian spaces—especially drones operated by law enforcement—makes many American civil libertarians suspicious. The same is true in the United Kingdom. Several companies that want the U.K. to adopt surveillance drones are trying to combat the machines’ “spy in the sky” stigma.

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How? According to the Guardian, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems Association “has recommended drones deployed in Britain should be shown to ‘benefit mankind in general’, be decorated with humanitarian-related advertisements, and be painted bright colours to distance them from those used in warzones. …”

The UAVSA’s general secretary, John Moreland, told the Guardian, "If they're brightly coloured, and people know why they're there, it makes them a lot more comfortable.” Does Big Brother look less malevolent in hot pink?

Read more on the Guardian.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies.