Terrorism By Remote Control?


Someone must have thought of this before, but how do you guard against terrorists armed with remote-control aircraft? As we suffer any number of indignities on our trips through the National Airspace System, technology marches forward in pilotless vehicles, such as the system IBM engineers are fooling around with. The folks at Big Blue’s Pervasive Computing Advanced Technology Laboratory have replaced the remote control on a model aircraft with a PDA that not only incorporates GPS navigation, it also beams an image back to the handheld computer’s display. We’ll spare you all the self-congratulatory jargon but it’s basically done with a cellphone and off-the-shelf computer hardware and software. Sound too far out to be of any practical use? Consider the case of a conventional RC model and its semi-successful assault on a Sydney, Australia, prison last week. The Canadian Press reported that the model plane, with a three-foot wingspan, made a perfect landing between two cellblocks at the Silverwater Remand and Reception Center on Tuesday. Typical Aussie humor greeted the unscheduled landing but prison spokesman Cmdr. Don Rodgers allowed there could have been method to the apparent madness. “… There could also potentially be a more serious aspect to this event, such as a trial to introduce contraband into the jail,” he said in a statement. No drugs or anything else was found on the plane. The owner is being asked to come forward to reclaim the plane. Or maybe he could throw the remote over the wall so the warden can play with it.