Photo Gallery Drone Worries in Germany

Declines in the size and price of unmanned flying devices have led to an explosion in their public and private deployment in Germany. Despite their many benefits, the murky legal environment has many worried that drones could be used for unlawful purposes.
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Advances in drone technology, largely driven by a creative DIY community, are making them smaller and cheaper. "Just eight years ago, most systems went for more than €100,000 ($130,000)," says Heinrich Warmers, a professor of electrical engineering at the Bremen University of Applied Sciences. "But, today, I can buy the entire control technology, including a compass and GPS, on a single chip for only €10."

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A drone from the French company Parrot: For relatively little money, drones are making a new form of private and public surveillance possible. "It's a revolution in the sky," says Wolfgang Neskovic, a member of the German parliament, the Bundestag, for the far-left Left Party. He also describes it as "a constitutional nightmare."

Foto: Dmfv
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The technology behind the systems is constantly advancing. Raphael Pirker, a computer science student in Zürich, flies his aircraft between high buildings in Berlin and New York using virtual-reality goggles and a system called "first-person view." When his drone plunges from a tall building, Pirker has the sensation of diving into the abyss from the perspective of a bird of prey.

Foto: Hilmar Schmundt/ DER SPIEGEL
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The US military is developing tiny drones that look like insects. It recently unveiled a prototype for a miniature drone the size of a mosquito. In the private sphere, the US company AeroVironment introduced the "Nano Hummingbird" flying robot last year. As small as a hummingbird, the device is capable of sitting on a branch and recording conversations unnoticed.

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