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First Consumer Drone Assassination Attempt

Posted August 14, 2018 1:39 PM by HUSH

Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was a participant in a world-first—no, not the world’s first government-by-mango (profanity warning). Instead, he was the target of the first attempted drone assassination. While giving a speech in honor of the country’s national guard, a drone exploded over the crowd, interrupting his speech and causing those same soldiers to flee.

It has since been determined that two DJI consumer-type drones were laden with explosives and destined to kill the embattled politician. Reports have varied as to whether the charges were gaseous or plastic explosive in nature. Maduro officials pinned the attempt on two political opponents, which really isn’t that surprising considering the country has been in a dire tailspin since 2012. Declining oil prices and massive social debts, coupled with epic mismanagement, has turned Venezuela into a Mad Max-esque world where people are beaten or killed for increasingly scarce food, fuel or medicine.

The attempt on Maduro was foiled thanks to jamming technology, which interferes with the signal between operator and device. Ulrike E. Franke, policy fellow with European Council of Foreign Relations, was surprised that Venezuelan security was even prepared for such an attack. (Doesn’t seem suspicious at all!)

This is actually just the most current zenith of consumer drones being retrofitted for more nefarious purposes. The Atlantic points out some other instances: drones being used to send drugs across borders; a drone that delivered hand grenades to a Mexican police chief as an act of intimidation; ISIS soldiers flying explosive drones at enemy troops; and thermite grenades delivered via drone that have caused billions of dollars in damage in Ukraine.

Drones are becoming cheaper and more available, so it is unlikely this is the only official assassination attempt that occurs. But how will engineers work to prevent this in the future? As with most of engineering, there are several solutions, each with an important trade-off.

Jammers are effective, but will block cellular and other types of radio communications. There are a variety of net guns and tethered bullets, but they are typical single shot or can be as dangerous as regular bullets. Counter-drones armed with nets or aerial weapons can cost $15,000 and require a skilled pilot. Directed energy weapons are still in development, and might not be practical in cites or crowds. Birds of prey are the coolest option, no doubt, and are effective, but are expensive to train, house, feed and care for, in addition to a bird handler. Geofencing might be the best option, but is only as good as the systems and software enforcing it.

Consider that there are millions of soft targets that may not be Dictator President Maduro, but could be even more disruptive. A man in California knocked out power for 1,600 residents and caused some facilities to evacuate after accidentally knocking out a high-voltage power line.

Drone attacks have been rare, but are likely to increase as the technology becomes more accessible. FAA regulations will likely have little effect on potential attacks. If there is a silver lining, it is that drone attacks are coming to light and public awareness is key to prevention, since drone attacks are limited in scale.

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#1

Re: First Consumer Drone Assassination Attempt

08/14/2018 2:07 PM

What happened to good old snipers....seems this would be much more effective....

Hey is that a grassy knoll?

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#6
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Re: First Consumer Drone Assassination Attempt

08/15/2018 12:25 PM

How could a DJI drone lift enough weight in explosive and shrapnel and then then fly fast enough to the target to surprise anyone and get close enough to do fatal damage to the intended target? Stupid plan if you ask me. That's why I think it's a false flag intended as an excuse for arresting the opposition.

First off drones are noisy. You don't sneak up on anyone with one out in the open. Second, they can't carry much payload unless they are BIG. Third, you would need a very skilled pilot to fly the thing right to the target, FPV or line of sight. Fourth, the payload would have to be heavy to have a damage radius large enough for success. All of this means this was some kind of major stupid. A sniper would have been cheaper and easier and more likely to succeed.

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#7
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Re: First Consumer Drone Assassination Attempt

08/15/2018 1:20 PM

Given the amount of lifting weight for explosives to carry out such an assassination attempt, I would think the drone would need to be of the size that Amazon needs to deliver packages by drones.

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#2

Re: First Consumer Drone Assassination Attempt

08/15/2018 10:24 AM

"It has since been determined..."

Is there a credible source for this info and also for the report that Venezuelan security was "prepared" for such an attack.

To me this smelled of setup from the beginning.

Hooker

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#3
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Re: First Consumer Drone Assassination Attempt

08/15/2018 11:24 AM

I agree with Hooker, smells fishy. He has since arrested the opposition. How convenient.

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#5
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Re: First Consumer Drone Assassination Attempt

08/15/2018 11:49 AM

Red flags went up all over the place for me when I read that they asked for our FBI to come investigate.

Hooker

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#4

Re: First Consumer Drone Assassination Attempt

08/15/2018 11:34 AM

Read this last week. My first response is they need better pilots. Straight up these guys couldn't hit a barn with a rock even standing 5-feet away.

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#8

Re: First Consumer Drone Assassination Attempt

08/15/2018 1:51 PM

A "false-flag" action straight from Hitler's Polish "invasion" propaganda?

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#9
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Re: First Consumer Drone Assassination Attempt

08/15/2018 3:26 PM

Maybe it was just a bad LiPo, or a moron with a firecracker! Or maybe some moron shot the drone thinking it was a bomb and exploded the LiPo.

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#10

Re: First Consumer Drone Assassination Attempt

08/15/2018 4:54 PM

To all yu'al who doubt the veracity of this drone claim:

I remember not so long ago from a little place called Iraq hearing of combat Hummers and their crews taken out by what were essentially pipe bombs triggered by burner cell phones. A whole lot of shade was thrown on those reports. Whoopsie, they were horribly true. True to the point hummers are essentially no longer combat vehicles, a whole bunch of GI's are casualties, and those little devices are now called IEDs and as such the strike fear into the hearts of all solders and officers fighting in nontraditional combat zones.

Just because it took place in a banana republic run by a 2 bit dictator does not necessarily mean the reports aren't true.

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#11
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Re: First Consumer Drone Assassination Attempt

08/16/2018 12:10 PM

I agree that this poor assassination attempt is plausibly real and not a setup by Maduro's cronies to arrest enemies.

However, I have to add one more log to the setup pyre. An easy solution to prevent the reported jamming of the remote signal controlling the drone is to just not use a remote signal. Inertial guidance of a preprogrammed route is very standard in off the shelf drones. Obviously, this still does not mitigate the noise of a drone. So not using a standard feature to make this harder to fail and not mitigating the noise of flight makes me wonder why a clever approach would be executed so badly.

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#12
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Re: First Consumer Drone Assassination Attempt

08/16/2018 3:01 PM

I did not know about the inertial preprogramming. They too might not have known about it either or at least know how to use it.

Why did such a clever approach could be executed so badly? First, you don't need to mitigate the noise. Fly a drone +/-200' above a boisterous-noisy political rally crowd and I doubt few if any of the participants will either see, hear or pay much attention to the craft. As for the crappy flying I can drive the wheels of almost any vehicle, BUT put me on the RC controls of a model car, plane or drone and you will quickly have an expensive pile of techno trash. Both the lack of hearing/seeing/reacting to the obvious and motor/eye skill in one endeavor not transferring over to another falls into what NASA calls "The Human Factor". As I stated in my first post all they needed was better pilots.

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#13
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Re: First Consumer Drone Assassination Attempt

08/22/2018 12:34 PM

The first released news film footage shows that Maduro did not duck at all in reaction to either of the two drone-borne explosions, and did not seem to be worried about any additional explosions...

No effort was in evidence to try move him, or any other nearby podium occupants, to safety elsewhere...

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#14

Re: First Consumer Drone Assassination Attempt

08/23/2018 10:14 PM

If you buy the part about it being a Consumer Product , read Confessions of an Economic Hitman , cia jackles

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