Feeds

Terrorist robots dissected - anatomy of a scare

DIY cruise missiles - not as easy as you think

Security for virtualized datacentres

You can buy a small, petrol-powered robochopper which might cost under $60k, carries up to 50lb of payload and could fit into the back of a van or small lorry all ready to fly. Pull up somewhere quiet the other side of St James' Park, launch the bird and drive away.

It has controllers and software capable of automatically flying a 3D waypoint route, apparently good enough to stay inside an area no more than six metres wide and one metre up and down.

So the robochopper zooms along gaily without further input from you just above the rooftops and trees, crosses Horse Guards and comes in where you choose - roof, window, maybe doorway of Number 10, accurate to maybe +/- 3 metres. Fifty pounds of explosive device goes off. Job done.

Maybe not, though. You've definitely got your headlines but you're fairly unlikely to have bagged your prime minister, unless you could predict in advance - almost to the second - just when he'd be between the door and the armoured car (even his press secretary probably can't predict it that closely). Even then, a bit of wind, an alert close-protection man, and you're out of luck. He'll be into the car or the building before the explosion.

One can, of course, destroy or partly destroy buildings and armoured limos with less than 50lb of explosives - the Brighton hotel bomb was smaller than that - but the stuff has to be carefully placed and prepared, probably inside the target. If all you can manage is crashlanding the bomb within an area six metres across you need to be thinking in terms of hundreds of pounds warhead weight for these targets.

The new, US "miniaturised" GBU-39 smartbomb - ultra-accurate, designed to get a kill using the minimum necessary amount of bang - is in the 250lb class. Most of this is actually the steel penetration case, which would let it punch inside No 10 or the PM's limo before detonating its 50lb charge. But the robochopper can't hit hard or fast enough to get this kind of result, even if it could lift the weight.

Probably the best plan would be to make a 50lb large-diameter shaped charge of the sort now being used in roadside "superbombs" in Iraq (it isn't too hard) and hang that under your robochopper. Fly the chopper at the PM's vehicle. To have any serious chance of success you will need to manually pilot the weapon in; GPS will quite likely miss altogether even if the vehicle is obliging enough to remain stationary, and with an explosively formed slug you need to be fairly accurate.

A $50k-60k robocopter can be handled remotely using a live vid feed, but now you've got serious problems. Your drone is no longer electronically stealthy - it can be detected a damn sight more easily than a blackbird. It can also be meddled with, and it will be. Even ordinary military patrols these days deploy sensors and jammers which can warn of an elctronic threat in advance and perhaps cancel it out.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that STINK? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Kip Thorne explains how he created the black hole for Interstellar
Movie special effects project spawns academic papers on gravitational lensing
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
Moment of truth for LOHAN's servos: Our US allies are poised for final test flight
Will Vulture 2 freeze at altitude? Edge Research Lab to find out
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.