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England is going to have the Olympics this summer, which means the entire island is going to be converted into Air Strip One for the duration.  On top of the regular police, there will be 13,500 military personnel deployed, and they will have the use of a Long Range Acoustical Device (LRAD).  According to Reuters (5/11/12), the LRAD is basically a torture device using the medium of sound:

The LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device), made by U.S. company LRAD Corporation, can be mounted on the side of a ship or on the top of a vehicle. Some versions are roughly the same size and shape as a dustbin lid.

It can generate noises up to around 150 decibels, similar to a gunshot, and has a maximum range of 3 km or 1.8 miles.

The device can also emit a warning alarm that sounds like a police siren and "potentially prevents the use of harmful or deadly force", LRAD says on its website.

Oh joy, another toy from the Homeland Security corporate welfare state.  Note that it's use is supposedly in lieu of "harmful or deadly force", and it's finding a lot of use in quelling protesters in various countries.

So you won't get shot -- maybe.  Oh goody.

"Non-lethal" doesn't mean nice.  This SOB is a nasty one.  From the Wiki:

... being within 100 metres (330 ft) of the LRAD is extremely painful, and that it was designed for use in short bursts at 300 metres (980 ft), to give targeted people a headache. He said that "you definitely don't want to be" within 100 m; and, that the device will cause permanent auditory damage.[3]

LRAD officials deny such common uses, claiming that the device is not a weapon, rather it is a "directed-sound communications system", and that it can damage hearing at 15 metres (49 ft).[4]

Here's the LRAD being used by heavily-militarized police in the G20 protests in Pittsburgh:

According to TPM, the LRAD Corporation markets these things not as weapons, but as "communication devices" and this certainly seems to be repeated on their website.  

Really however there isn't any doubt that this can be and has been used as a weapon.  Its makers are desperate for foreign contracts, and the palming off of this as an enhanced loudspeaker is just a smokescreen.

And as you might have imagined, our friends at LRAD Corporation have figured out a way to mount the LRAD on a drone aircraft.  From the company's website:

The LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device) family of products can be operated remotely across an IP network giving USV/UAV operators the important capability of communicating to targets from a safe location.  ... LRAD broadcasts high intensity focused acoustic output to clearly communicate critical information, instructions and warnings well beyond 500 meters.

Through the use of multi-lingual voice commands and deterrent tones, large safety zones can be created while determining the intent and influencing the behavior of targeted threats.

(USV=Unmanned Surface Vehicles.  UAV=Unmanned Aviation Vehicles.)

In other words, someone 1,000 miles away will be able to breakup up protests using internet-controlled robot aircraft-mounted sound cannons.

I feel safer already!

Poll

Sound cannons on drone aircraft -- good idea?

7%2 votes
39%11 votes
10%3 votes
42%12 votes

| 28 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (16+ / 0-)

    You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

    by Cartoon Peril on Tue May 15, 2012 at 04:52:34 PM PDT

  •  sea shepard (5+ / 0-)

    The Japanese Fishing vessals have used these against the Sea Shepard helicopter.  The article states that the LRAD can cause nausea and disorientation.  

    Other reports of it's use have not been conclusive in its success as a crowd dispersal "weapon".

    Two quotes I wish to live by "Strength and Honor" (Gladiator) and "Do or Do Not, There is no Try" (SW-ESB).

    by SQD35R on Tue May 15, 2012 at 05:03:29 PM PDT

  •  Wouldn't a good set of earplugs (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril, G2geek, semiot

    make this useless?

    "The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems." -Gandhi

    by bobsc on Tue May 15, 2012 at 05:06:17 PM PDT

    •  Not sure, it seems like the vibrations could do (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobsc

      damage even with ear plugs.  No human tests of course -- yet.

      You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

      by Cartoon Peril on Tue May 15, 2012 at 05:12:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  IIRC about such things (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cartoon Peril, bobsc, G2geek, semiot

      Earplugs have perhaps 32 db attenuation (good ones used properly), so that would leave you with 120 DB, right around the limit where real damage can occur in a limited amount of time.

      Guess it might be a good idea to wear plugs to anywhere these devices are being deployed...

      "... the best of us did not return." Viktor Frankl

      by RMeister on Tue May 15, 2012 at 05:23:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You'd need something like a sound-dampening (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bobsc, divineorder

        helmet I imagine.

        You have exactly 10 seconds to change that look of disgusting pity into one of enormous respect!

        by Cartoon Peril on Tue May 15, 2012 at 05:26:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That is assuming you are far enough away. Suppose (0+ / 0-)

        the actual intensity is more like 200 to 250 decibels due to extreme close range? Remember, these are the same people who will shoot you in the head with a rubber bullet at only 3 to 5 feet so why wouldn't they be willing to use this thing at only 10-20 feet?

        There is no saving throw against stupid.

        by Throw The Bums Out on Tue May 15, 2012 at 07:22:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Look at LRAD site (0+ / 0-)

          The most powerful system they sell (much bigger than the rest) is supposed to be 162 db at 1m.

          But I agree that there is every reason to suspect they won't be used IAW the manuals.

          "... the best of us did not return." Viktor Frankl

          by RMeister on Tue May 15, 2012 at 09:52:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That is for one LRAD. Suppose you use three (0+ / 0-)

            or even ten of them carefully set to maximize the combined sound output through constructive interference?  Or even just use one but manage to set it to the resonant frequency of a person's skull causing the bones to shatter?  Or just set it to produce harmful infrasound instead of audible noise.  I would assume the frequency of the sound generated in weapon mode is user controllable.  Even that is assuming the power output on their site isn't deliberately understated much like the top speed of an aircraft carrier or military jet.

            There is no saving throw against stupid.

            by Throw The Bums Out on Wed May 16, 2012 at 04:14:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Not if it is powerful enough. Ever hear of a (5+ / 0-)

      thermobaric ("vacuum") bomb which is basically the same thing only designed be lethal over a much larger area?  Earplugs won't protect you from a fractured skull or having all of the air rapidly and forcefully removed from your lungs fast enough that your lungs actually rupture.  Remember, sound is nothing more than differences in air pressure.  The only reason this thing can be considered "non-lethal" is due to the inverse square law (double the distance and the intensity is reduced by 1/4, triple the distance and the intensity is reduced by 1/9, and so on).  I would be willing to bet that at 10 meters it would be 99% lethal if switched to weapon mode (these devices have two modes, one acts as a communication loudspeaker for addressing large numbers of people and the other turns it into a focused sonic weapon).

      There is no saving throw against stupid.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Tue May 15, 2012 at 05:33:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't think it works like that. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cartoon Peril, G2geek

        If it did being around a battleship's battery when fired would be fatal, and it isn't.  Damaging yes, fatal no.

        "... the best of us did not return." Viktor Frankl

        by RMeister on Tue May 15, 2012 at 05:43:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not intense enough and not focused enough. As (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cartoon Peril, Nada Lemming

          an example, a 5 watt night light is harmless but a 5 watt laser can burn through steel and can easily burn a hole straight through your eye.  As for the battleship battery, it probably would be if you could get close enough but that would probably mean being inside the barrel.  Oh, and it is even easier for it to be lethal if you can adjust the frequency well enough.

          There is no saving throw against stupid.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Tue May 15, 2012 at 06:43:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  erroneous reasoning-by-analogy. (0+ / 0-)

        The extreme fluctuation in air pressure caused by a thermobaric bomb has exactly nothing to do with "sound pressure level" or the effects of an LRAD, except for the fact that the former can be used to come to erroneous alarmist conclusions about the latter.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Tue May 15, 2012 at 08:43:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  and there's an acoustic weapon that... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, semiot

      ... no earplugs can protect against.

      It also happens to be totally benign, in the sense that it cannot cause harm to the human organism.

      It consists of a long-range microphone, digital delay unit, amplifier, and loudspeaker.  You point it at the crowd and it picks up whatever they're saying, and flings their words back at them slightly delayed.  

      Hearing yourself through a delay interferes with the part of your brain that processes speech, to the point that you feel confused and you can't communicate effectively.  This is quite sufficient to interrupt violent moods and cause violent crowds to break up and exit the scene.   Some people when exposed to this weapon will just stand there and talk to themselves out loud, due to sheer curiosity about what's going on.  "Hello?"  Hello-hello-hello...  "What's this?" whats-this-whats-this-whats-this...  "Can you hear me?" canyouhearme-canyouhearme....

      You can think of it as the acoustical equivalent of harmless itching powder sprinkled down your shirt.  

      It can be combined with other acoustical techniques such as the "hemi-sync" or "frequency-following response" technique developed for altered states research, that is well known to be useful at inducing relaxation through audio entrainment of brainwave activity (peer-reviewed findings published on this topic).  

      And that's the kind of "weaponry" I think would be perfectly acceptable to use on violent crowds.  Totally harmless, and sufficiently effective as to stop the violence.  

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Tue May 15, 2012 at 09:05:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  it may get some use this weekend in Chicago (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cartoon Peril

    I value my hearing way too much to even get near the protests.

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