January saw the official launch of the Director’s new project, Freedom Flies, a peaceful Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. While nearly all UAVs are developed and marketed for military applications, Freedom Flies is targeted for use by journalists, and is the logical extension of the 2001 Afghan Explorer research project. Test flights were conducted on the US / Mexico border, looking for evidence of anti-immigrant groups that are known to promulgate unlawful violence against political and economic refugees there.
While much has been made of using UAVs for “border security,” we believe the systems may also be used to keep our homeland safe by observing and reporting illegal proto-fascist activities. We will be open-sourcing both hardware and software designs for Freedom Flies so that indy media and non-profit groups can rebuild the system. Pictured is the system (crashing!) at the Center for Land Use Interpretation’s proving ground near Hinkley, California.