You might be forgiven for thinking that they were filming a new episode of that old movie series, Star Wars. But the drone attack in Los Angeles yesterday wasn’t staged by movie moguls. It was a local attempt at urban terror.
Police and FBI are still investigating, but it appears to have been the work of a lone wolf, possibly an ordinary embittered citizen who has gone ‘dronal’.
The attack was launched with 76 home-printed quadcopter drones fitted with improvised explosive and chemical weapons. Either following a pre-programmed route or a lead drone using swarm logic, the fleet headed for Dodger Stadium, where a match was underway.
Fortunately, the match was being broadcast online by virtual reality drone cameras; viewers caught sight of the approaching swarm, and immediately started posting instant comments. A quick-witted VRnet operator saw the danger and alerted the security team. Within seconds counter-measures were launched, and most of the drones were disabled, as they came in range.
A dozen of the drones crashed and exploded, causing damage to parked cars and buildings. No-one was seriously injured.
Particularly effective against the attack drones was a new ‘drone gun’ which looks like a Star Wars blaster, but sends out a powerful radio signal, stopping the drone in mid-air, and guiding it safely to the ground.
“We dodged a bullet this time,” said Special Agent Daniels of the FBI. “But now that everyone has access to 3D printed weapons and guidance systems, we’ve got to think hard about what the crazies might do next!”