Less than a week after the US government deployed Predator drones over the US-Mexico border the flights have been temporarily halted after a Predator drone ‘went rogue’. According to a US Customs statement to a local Texas paper the drone experienced a “communications loss“.
This is not the first time that a predator or reaper drone has gone ‘rogue’ – the term used when the remote control of a drone is lost. Apparently a short loss of communication between drones and their remote pilots is not unusal but when it is for an extended period of time, panic ensues. Last September (2009) the US Air Force had to shoot down one of its own drones in Afghanistan when it went rogue and threatened to leave Afghan airspace. Perhaps the most famous ‘rogue drone’ story concerns a smaller Israeli-made Orbiter drone, being used by Irish peacekeepers in Chad in 2008 which, after a communication loss with its operator decided to head home to Ireland -some 5,000 kilometers away. Needless to say it didn’t make it and crashed.
As pressure grows to allow drones to operate in the UK drone manufacturers and operators are desperate to show that drones are ‘the safe security option’. Each drone that goes rogue shows this is not the case.