Day #54: UAV

The city is huge. Like any city, it has its sections of palatial mansions and downtown government towers. But mostly, it is occupied by shanties and rundown housing. The city is a war zone, i’s downtown shielded off  with concentric layers of security, anti-mortar systems and an array of other technologies.

In one corner of the sprawling metropolis, Sgt. Juan Gonzalez is working on a rubble strewn stretch of road. Roadside bombs, hidden beneath chunks of pavement, trash cans and anonymous rubble, surround him. In the Sergeant’s hand is a microUAV (unmanned aerial vehicle). A multi-rotor helicopter, it is the latest and greatest there is. It can fly at 90 miles an hour, it can get up to an altitude of 3,000 feet, and, most importantly, it is loaded with the latest and greatest in autonomous action modules, signal warfare systems and navigation technologies. After a few more adjustments, Sgt. Gonzalez hits a button and the UAV soars into the air.

The Sergeant heads back under cover. In theory, he is in a safe part of the city. But you can’t be too careful.

Programmed, the UAV understands its mission. It flies high into the air and towards a part of the city that is definitely not safe. As it travels, it encounters a barrage of electronic resistance. Its finely tuned systems compare output from visual, radar, infrared and other sources and compile a picture that the UAV’s systems feel makes sense. It is rarely wrong. As it nears the target zone, the UAV’s optical scanners begin reviewing faces – comparing them against an internal database using advanced pattern matching technologies. The UAV has a single target. The goal is to eliminate the target, without collateral damage. The hearts and minds of the local population might be won over with a perfect strike.

Occasional gunfire comes from the ground, but the UAV is highly maneuverable and hard to hit. If it is hit, it can compensate using its redundant systems – including the multiple-rotor technology.  For days the UAV loiters – scanning faces, trying to pick out the target. It has a preprogrammed threshold, 95% certainty is enough to pull the trigger.

Finally, on day three, a face is spotted. It is only visible for a moment before the man whose face it is pulled his scarf more tightly around his head.  Height and weight match and the face itself has a 97% probability of matching the target. The threshold has been passed. The UAV fires a micro missile. The missile, with onboard brains of its own, seeks the target and closes quickly. A moment later, it is over.

The UAV returns to base, landing where Sgt. Gonzalez has been waiting for three days.

The Sergeant grabs the UAV and pulled it back under cover. The opposition might have similar machines.

He reviews the the video feed provided by the system. Then, satisfied by the success of the mission, he reports back up his chain of command.

The new UAV is indeed something special.

The year is 2028, the city is Los Angeles, and the Sergeant is a low-level soldier in the Baja Mexicali.

And the UAV is the future of gang warfare.