The Miami-Dade police department has purchased a T-Hawk drone from the military contractor, Honeywell, and is now awaiting FAA approval to operate it in domestic airspaces.
WSVN news in Florida reported on the acquisition here last week, but seems to have used images of the wrong drone, a General Atomics creation called the Predator. The T-Hawk is a far less nefarious cousin of the Predator. It's a camera-equipped, unmanned aerial vehicle originally developed by Honeywell as a surveillance drone to be used in anti-terror campaigns. It weighs 17 pounds and can fly at an altitude of 10,000 feet for more than 40 minutes, according to Honeywell.
The T-Hawk has been used by the British Ministry of Defense in Afghanistan to scout out particularly threatening bits of terrain. But, if the FAA gives it the green light, its duties in Miami will likely be quite different—aiding SWAT teams and search and rescue operations.
Drones have proved to be a politically volatile issue in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the news that they will soon be used as a domestic surveillance tool is already drawing criticism. As with similar technological expansions, the concerns have to do with privacy and with how much money was spent.