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Startup Supplies A.I. Drones to U.S. Government

Maxim Sorokopud Maxim Sorokopud
20th March 2021
Startup Supplies A.I. Drones to U.S. Government
Police drones have been used in the U.S. since the mid 2000s (Getty Images).

The Claim

Google veterans have teamed up with the U.S. government to make drones that can predict people’s moves and police them, which will lead to an abuse of power.

Emerging story

On March 6th, the website Activist Post published a news report that claimed that Google veterans had joined forces with the US government to “fill the sky” with artificially intelligent drones that could predict human behavior. The lead image for this article showed a drone with the word “SkyNet” formed out of the brand colors and old logo of Google, an allusion to technology from the apocalyptic Terminator franchise. The report warns of this technology saying, “the government always abuses the technology it has at its fingertips.”

This report soon spread across social media. 

A supporting image within the article body
A supporting image within the article body

Misbar’s Analysis

Misbar’s investigation shows that the original article is an exaggeration of current events.

By “Google Veterans,” the title is referring to Adam Bry and Abraham Bachrach. They worked for Google as software engineers for 18 months before leaving the company to create the drone manufacturing company, Skydio in 2014, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

It is true that more than 20 police agencies across the U.S. now have Skydios as part of their drone fleets. These drones have been used for a variety of purposes including helping police, inspecting bridges, obstacle avoidance, offline maps, point-of-interest orbit, and delivering goods.

Skydio’s aim is to, “make the world more productive, creative, and safe with autonomous flight.” While the company does list the US Federal Government as a customer, it is hard to see how Skydio has “teamed up” with the government, as the Activist Post claimed.

Our analysis reveals that the drones are used by dozens of American police departments. Basically, they are drones that are easier to fly thanks to artificial intelligence. The technology is not exactly brand new, as police drones have been used across the country since the mid 2000s. 

Misbar’s Classification


Misbar’s Sources

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