Drone Flying Over Washington, D.C., Neighborhood Goes Missing

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Sept. 13 2012 6:06 PM

Drone Flying Over Washington, D.C., Neighborhood Goes Missing

Missing-Drone2

Photograph by Bonnie Shaw.

A drone has gone missing in Washington. No, not a Predator or a Reaper—and not one of the drones that is gearing up for the Lawfare Drone Smackdown. And no, not @drunkenpredator on his latest binge. It’s just some guy’s drone—and he’s done just what you would do if you lost your pride and joy: He’s posted a flier.

No, this is not a joke. It is real. I promise.

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This excellent picture was forwarded to me by a colleague here at Brookings. It was shot by his friend, Bonnie Shaw, who tells me that she saw the flyer at the corner of 17th and Kalorama Streets, NW in Washington.

The drone turns out to belong to one Adam Eidinger—or at least, it used to. And Eidinger is very disappointed about his loss. Eidinger, who has been tweeting the matter, tells me that he uses his drone to take aerial videos of Washington D.C.

Last Friday, Eidinger informed me that he wanted to take a short video of a festival in Adams Morgan, and was flying his quadcopter from a rooftop on 18th Street NW. A huge gust of wind blew it too far south and Eidinger quickly lost orientation. The copter was almost 5,000 feet away from him, and he couldn’t tell which way was forward and which way was backward. When his remote loses contact with the drone, says Eidinger, the copter is programmed to slowly descend on its own—a “safe landing mode,” which prevents it from simply falling out of the sky and crashing. So it’s possible that the quadcopter is sitting on a rooftop somewhere in the area—maybe even on your rooftop (have you checked?). Eidinger doesn’t think it has fallen in a public place, because he says he canvassed the whole area and had no luck.

The quadcopter is 2 ft x 2 ft and was purchased in China, says Eidinger, because there are virtually no commercially available units like these in America. Eidenger customized it, and the total cost of the contraption was about $700.

It really is kind of amazing how the proliferation of cheap technologies has revolutionized the way we interact with our communities and surroundings.

If any readers have any information about Eidinger’s drone—in whose downing we suspect Iranian involvement—he would be exceedingly grateful.

This article originally appeared on the blog Lawfare.

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

Ritika Singh is a research assistant at the Brookings Institution, where she focuses on law and national security issues.

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