Google Prey: Autonomous Drone Fleet

google prey

Dylan Vrana, Extralegal Assassination Correspondent

Google has a long history of cool new products, but they may have outdone themselves this week! Last Sunday Sergei Brin, head of Google’s R&D wing, announced the development of Google Prey, a fleet of autonomous hunter-killer drones. The drones, developed secretly as part of one of Google’ “moonshot” technical projects, will be based in the Silicon Valley Googleplex but will range across most of the US, along with Mexico, Western Canada, and some Pacific shipping lanes.

Brin brought a Prey drone with him to demonstrate for the audience. It follows Google’s characteristic minimalist design, painted white with the Google logo on both sides. It also has a smiley face on the tracking nose cone to humanize it.  The autonomous platform carries an array of advanced sensor gear (to be used in Google Maps surveying) and two AGM-114 “Hellfire” anti-tank missiles for “self-defense and brand management.” It also features a low-latency Internet connection, allowing it to respond to new situations in real time. Brin even presented an exciting technical demo in which the drone circled above the crowd, turning to face and marking in an internal database anyone who tweeted in #GooglePrey. It concluded the presentation by dropping a brand-new Android smartphone to the journalist who got the most retweets!

Surprisingly, not all reactions to the drones have been positive.  Stanford University professor Lena Dowell sharply criticized the Prey project. “‘Google Prey’ is terrible branding. They’re drones, they should be doing the hunting.  ‘Google Predator,’ maybe?  ‘Google Sky-Net’?  ‘Google Ultron’?” Several other Stanford professors claimed that the drones were a “human rights disaster on par with Google Plus,” but as of press time they seem to have vanished and my searches turned up no contact information or explanation of where they went.

Brin says the fleet will launch in early December and that he expects “No significant obstacles” to their deployment.

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