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

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.


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. 



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

An Iranian Woman Was Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist. Can Activists Save Her?

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

The U.S. Has a New Problem in Syria: The Moderate Rebels Feel Like We’ve Betrayed Them

The Ludicrous Claims Women Are Pitched at “Egg Freezing Parties”

Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
Oct. 1 2014 1:11 PM This Company Wants to Fight World Hunger With Flies 
The Eye
Oct. 1 2014 1:04 PM An Architectural Crusade Against the Tyranny of Straight Lines
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 2:08 PM We Need to Talk: Terrible Name, Good Show
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Oct. 1 2014 1:53 PM Slate Superfest East How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 1:13 PM The Essence of Gender Roles in Action Movies, in One Supercut
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 1:25 PM Japanese Cheerleader Robots Balance and Roll Around on Balls
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 12:01 PM Rocky Snow
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.