The democratization of drones

Spencer Ackerman writes: In the video above, protesters in Warsaw got a drone’s eye view of a phalanx of police in riot gear during a heated Saturday demonstration. The drone — spotted by Wired editor-in-chief and drone-builder Chris Anderson — was a tiny Polish RoboKopter equipped with a videocamera.

As Chris observes, no more do citizens need to wait for news choppers to get aerial footage of a major event. With drones, they can shoot their own overhead video. But the implications run deeper than that.

The Occupy events around the country gained initial notoriety by filming and uploading incidents of apparent police brutality. Anyone with a cellphone camera and a YouTube account could become a videographer, focusing attention on behavior that cops or banks might not want broadcasted or that the media might not transmit. When the New York Police Department cleared out Zuccotti Park on Tuesday, out came the cellphones to document it.

Getting an aerial view is the next step in compelling DIY citizen video.

The developer and operator of the RoboKopter is Artur Książek and whether his aim was to gather intelligence for the protesters or to market his invention is unclear. The video below shows how the aircraft operates.

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