Legality of a street drone

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by strantor, Sep 11, 2013.

  1. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
    If someone were to set up a remote controlled car or wheeled robot with long range RF control and video feedback and drive it around through residential neighborhoods or maybe even through the city, from the comfort of their home armchair, would that be legal?

    Common sense tells me that it probably is illegal, but I can't find any reference to a law that prohibits it, other than local ordinances which prohibit RC cars in certain areas at certain times and such. I'm thinking that it's probably got to be illegal at a federal level due to the potential for the big "T" word. Such an outfit could be equipped with a weapon that might be driven into an area and carry out a heinous act with the perpetrator safely miles away.

    The google car is legal, and that's a CAR. Toy RC cars don't have to meet any of the requirements of motor vehicles on public roadways. So from that angle, it almost seems like has to be legal.
  2. praondevou

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jul 9, 2011
    It would have to controlled via radio (relatively high power) or the cellphone network. Quite easy to find out who is controlling it. Unless it's a truly autonomous robot and you give it coordinates to go to and to "b" things up.

    I read here in Canada flying drones equipped with cameras need to be in line of sight with the person controlling it.
  3. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
    The cell network is easily traceable here in the states an I assume Canada, but in some countries I have been to, you can buy a phone cash with no paperwork, a prepaid sim cash with no paperwork, and minutes/data cash no paperwork, and all of this is the natural order of things, not black market. I guess that's sort of a moot point since my question referred to the states, but I think it could still be done with little trace evidence here.

    Anyway, my question isn't really about whether or not a terrorist operation could be pulled off successfully with this method. My question is about whether or not the NSA/FBI/DHS/FCC ("the man") would have any grounds to knock down someone's door and make them disappear, should they build such a device and use it to harass dogs at the park or neighborhood kids.

    There are plenty of legitimate reasons to have a robot car like this. Other than just because it's one of the most awesome toys ever, if you were crippled, you could use it to fetch mail to even pick up groceries. You could use it to spy on your teenage daughter. You could use it to walk the dog. Or find the cat, if it doesn't come home. There are endless possibilities, but I'm wondering if that one unthinkable possibility precludes it being legal.
  4. shortbus

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 30, 2009
    Around here they put people in jail for driving their powered wheelchairs in the street!
  5. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
    Should be no problem. It already exists. Several companies are selling avatar bots - essentially a wheel chair with an iPod mounted at shoulder height with FaceTime activated. A handicapped kid can operate the chair from his home computer and "interact" with classmates by "walking" to school and through school hallways and moving in class.
    strantor likes this.
  6. GetDeviceInfo

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jun 7, 2009
    here in Canada, you must be licensed to operate a vehicle on a public roadway. Vehicles must be of minimum safety requirements, and be registered as such, for the intended operation. I doubt a remote vehicle would pass those requirements.
  7. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
    I've spoken with residents of Ontario who ride ebikes and they say that as long as it has pedals, it considered a bicycle, and not a motor vehicle, and therefore requires no registration or other requirements of motor vehicles. Perhaps mounting a pair of pedals on top of the robot would help?
  8. tracecom

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 16, 2010
    Here, the PD puts warning flags on the chairs for them. (But I live in a small town.) :)
    shortbus likes this.
  9. Metalmann

    Active Member

    Dec 8, 2012
    "My question is about whether or not the NSA/FBI/DHS/FCC ("the man") would have any grounds to knock down someone's door and make them disappear".

    According to those "Alphabet Agencies", they have all rights to do what they think is necessary, for complete control of the populace.
    Just look at "Police State" videos on YTube. Real people.

    Every cop shop, has petitioned for Drones, in their ever growing budgets....
    I feel bad for the kids growing up in this Police environment.:(
    It's getting worse by the day.

    And, the citizens; do not want to believe it.

    They all think they are safer....than yesterday.:D

    Create another boogieman, get more dollars.

    That's how it works.
    shortbus likes this.
  10. dthx


    May 2, 2013
    why would common sense tell you that the robot would be illegal?
    You can walk down the street or sidewalk and look at houses and use your video camera if you are in a public place.....why not be able to see what your robot sees from the comfort of your own living room?
  11. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
    Because robots aren't "Street Legal." When I was a kid, I was harassed for riding my non-street legal mini-bike on a public road.
    shortbus likes this.
  12. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
    I can't explain common sense. You either have it or you don't.
    #12 and Metalmann like this.
  13. monster_catfish

    Active Member

    Mar 17, 2011
    Whether or not a remote controlled terrestrial vehicle would be classified as legal, there are already quite a few hobbyists who own and operate such RC trucks throughout suburban America.

    I wouldn't imagine anyone getting too concerned about such harmless toys, unless of course one is spotted creeping among sunbathing coeds on a nude beach, and filming their tan lines, in which case The Man might be forced to confiscate the footage for detailed analysis.