Technology In Movies: Eye In The Sky

SPOTLIGHTING THE EFFECTIVE USE OF DRONE TECHNOLOGY IN MOVIES, USING THE MOVIE "EYE IN THE SKY" AS A STUDY.

SYNOPSIS

The film opens in Nairobi, Kenya, where Alia Mo'Allim, a young girl, twirls a hula hoop made by her father in their backyard.

British Army Colonel Katherine Powell wakes up early in the morning and hears that an undercover British/Kenyan agent has been murdered by the Al-Shabaab terrorist group. From Northwood Headquarters she takes command of a mission to capture high-level Al-Shabaab militants, who are meeting in a safehouse in Nairobi. These include a British couple, Susan Helen Danford (based on Samantha Lewthwaite[4]) and her husband.

A multinational team works on the capture mission, linked together by video images. Aerial surveillance is provided by a USAF MQ-9 Reaper drone controlled from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada by USAF pilot, 2d Lt Steve Watts. Undercover Kenyan field agents, including Jama Farah, use short-range ornithopter and insectothopter cameras for ground intelligence. Kenyan special forces are positioned nearby to make the arrest. Facial recognition to identify human targets is done at Joint Intelligence Center Pacific at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The mission is supervised in the United Kingdom by a COBRA meeting that includes Lieutenant General Frank Benson of the Royal Marines, government ministers, and the UK Attorney General.

Farah discovers that the occupants have explosives and are preparing two suicide bombers for what is presumed to be an attack on a civilian target. Powell decides that the imminent bombing changes the mission objective from "capture" to "kill". She informs drone pilot Watts to prepare a precision Hellfire missile attack on the building, and solicits the opinion of her British Army legal counsel. To her frustration, her counsel advises her to seek approval from superiors. Benson asks permission from the COBRA members. Citing conflicting legal and political views and contrasting the tactical value of the assassination with the negative publicity of killing civilians and the status of some of the targets as American or British nationals, they fail to reach a decision and refer the question up to the UK Foreign Secretary. Impaired by a bout of food poisoning on a trade mission to Singapore, he does not offer a definite answer and tries to defer to the US Secretary of State (contacted on a cultural exchange in Beijing), who immediately authorises the strike. He then insists on due diligence being performed to minimise collateral damage.

Meanwhile, the situation at the house becomes more difficult to assess. Alia, who lives next door, is now near the target building selling her mother's bread. The lawyers and politicians involved in the chain of command argue the personal, political and legal merits of and justification for launching a Hellfire missile attack in a friendly country not at war with the US or UK, with the significant risk of collateral damage. Watts and his enlisted sensor operator, A1C Carrie Gershon, can see Alia selling bread outside the targeted building, and they seek to delay firing the missile until she moves.

Farah is directed to try and buy all of Alia's bread so she will leave, but in the process his cover is blown and he is forced to flee. Just as the suicide bombers are finishing their preparations, the surveillance video being captured by Farah's stationary insectothopter cuts off when its battery is drained.

Seeking a way to get authorisation to execute the strike, Powell orders her risk-assessment officer to find parameters that will let him quote a lower 45% risk of civilian deaths. He re-evaluates the strike point and assesses the probability of Alia's death at 45–65%. She makes him confirm only the lower figure, and then reports this up the chain of command. The strike is authorised, and Watts fires a missile. The building is destroyed, with casualties in and around it. Alia, who was reselling the bread Farah dropped upon fleeing, is injured and unconscious. However, Danford also survived. Watts is ordered to fire a second missile, which strikes the site just as Alia's parents reach her. Both suffer minor injuries and rush Alia to a hospital, where she dies.

In the London situation room, General Benson says: "Never tell a soldier that he does not know the cost of war." The end credits begin rolling back to the beginning of the movie, with Alia shown twirling her hula hoop.

DRONE TECHNOLOGY

Although the movie lasted for only about 1hr 30mins; what strangely got me interested and inquisitive was the efficient and effective use of drones; It was not even the regularly shaped ones like this one below:

The one used that got my attention was shaped like an insect, an insect guys! So bummer, not every insect flying by you is a mere mosquito or cockroach.

"The insect drone takes on the functions of larger UAVs, but reduces the larger drones down into a miniature undetectable device." This was used instead of the regular drones and controlled into a room to monitor the terrorists as they were about to launch a blast. The obvious advantages lies in the size as opposed to the former, the latter can go unnoticed  while properly performing its function and properly permeate any space, also with the disadvantage that it runs out of power more  quickly than the former as more energy is expended on its flying mechanism. Nonetheless it is perfect for spy and undercover operations; I also highly recommend that it should be welcomed and adopted  by security and safety organizations such as The Nigerian Police as an aerial assistant to combat crimes and maintain law and order in good time and with a high level of accuracy. 

If you are curious, here is how the insect drones work: According to RoboticsTomorrow, in trying to mimic nature to produce robotic facsimiles, the term—biorobotics—is applied. Referring to drones, biorobotics’ goal is to harness nature’s unique ability to fly through all environments while avoiding obstacles, and ultimately have these insect drones fly without human control. Scientists are using high-speed cameras to plot the movement of insects in nature and create autonomous insect drones. Honey-comb carbon fiber bodies and silicon joints are used, costing around 10 cents to construct. The power supply is a battery pack rechargeable through solar panels on the exterior body. The sensory system consists of two eyes and multiple temperature, wind, and speed sensors. The wings are connected to respective actuators, while an internal network of algorithms and sensory signals gives the drone the ability to communicate. Unlike other UAVs, the insect drone must have an autonomous computer system because it is too small to be controlled by a remote. Once the action has been decided, the signal moves on to the inertial system to distribute the specific functions in respect to the action of the wings. The wings then use several sensors to deliver the most accurate wing thrusts to fulfill the action.