The White House drone crash was likely caused by a drunk intelligence agency worker

white house drone crash linked to drunken intelligence agency worker
Early on Monday morning, some guy messing around with a DJI Phantom quadcopter close to the White House lost control of his flying machine, sending it crashing down onto one of the most famous lawns in the world.

Following widespread news coverage, the drone operator contacted officials to let them know his behavior had had no sinister intent, and that he was simply flying his toy recreationally.

What didn’t quite add up was the fact that the incident took place at 3am, not the usual time to crank up a drone for a quick fly-by of the president’s official residence. On Tuesday, however, the story became a little clearer, though no less odd.

Plastered government worker

According to the NY Times, flying the quadcopter was an off-duty government intelligence agency worker. A drunk one.

The inebriated individual was reportedly operating the drone from an apartment a short distance from the White House. He apparently didn’t know it’d gone down in the grounds of the president’s home, though texts sent to friends immediately afterwards suggested he feared that it had.

Still, instead of going out to look for the remote-control copter, he decided to hit the hay and worry about it later. The next morning, possibly following a sleep filled with nightmares about multiple news shows reporting on a mysterious drone breaching White House security, he awoke to multiple news shows reporting on a mysterious drone breaching White House security. Keen to do the right thing, after having done the wrong thing, he called the authorities to own up to the act.

The NY Times said officials described the incident as “nothing more than a drunken misadventure,” though it has of course raised concerns about security at the White House as the two-foot-wide quadcopter evaded radar and wasn’t spotted until it was well inside the perimeter fence.

With officials keenly aware that terrorists could potentially use the diminutive flying machines to launch some kind of attack, research is taking place to find ways to detect incursions by small remotely operated aircraft and bring them down quickly. Perhaps this drone-hunting drone might help.

Obama comments

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday [video], President Obama touched on the incident, saying the drone was the sort “you buy at RadioShack.”

Discussing the technology, Obama admitted the government has been slow to act on launching a framework for the use of drones, and that the situation needed to change so that “we get the good and minimize the bad.”

The Federal Aviation Administration is currently working on drawing up regulations for the flying machines, though its failure to move more quickly on the matter has frustrated a number of companies – Amazon among them – that want to use the technology in their business.

As for the man at the center of Monday’s incident, it’s not known if any action will be taken against him, though presumably he’ll be looking for an open field well away from the White House for his next quadcopter adventure.

Emerging Tech

Inside the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious plan to rid the ocean of plastic waste

In 2013, Boyan Slat crowdfunded $2.2 million to fund the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that builds big, floating trash collectors and sets them out to sea, where they’re designed to autonomously gobble up garbage.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

Skip the flowers and sunshine this spring and watch the best shows on Hulu

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (April 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Emerging Tech

Troubleshooting Earth

It’s no secret that humans are killing the planet. Some say it’s actually so bad that we’re hurtling toward a sixth major extinction event -- one which we ourselves are causing. But can technology help us undo the damage we’ve…
Emerging Tech

Climeworks wants to clean the atmosphere with a fleet of truck-sized vacuums

Using machines that resemble jet engines, Climeworks wants to fight climate change by extracting CO2 from thin air. The gas can then be sold to carbonated drink and agriculture companies, or sequestered underground.
Emerging Tech

How 3D printing has changed the world of prosthetic limbs forever

When he was 13 years old, Christophe Debard had his leg amputated. Here in 2019, Debard's Print My Leg startup helps others to create 3D-printed prostheses. Welcome to a growing revolution!
Emerging Tech

Geoengineering is risky and unproven, but soon it might be necessary

Geoengineering is a field dedicated to purposely changing the world's climate using technology. Call it 'playing god' if you must; here's why its proponents believe it absolutely must happen.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Earth Day, indoor container farming, robot submarines

Today on Digital Trends Live, we discuss how technology intersects with Earth Day, a new Tim Cook biography, indoor container farming, robot spy submarines, A.I. death metal, and more.

Google’s Stadia is the future of gaming, and that’s bad news for our planet

Google’s upcoming Stadia cloud gaming service, and its competitors, are ready to change the way gamers play, but in doing so they may kick off a new wave of data center growth – with unfortunate consequences for the environment.
Emerging Tech

Hawaiian botanists’ drone discovers a plant thought to be lost forever

In what may well be a world first, botanists in Hawaii recently used a drone to find a species of plant that scientists believed was extinct. The plant was located on a sheer cliff face nearly 20 years after its last sighting.
Emerging Tech

Alphabet’s Wing drones now have FAA approval to deliver packages in the U.S.

Alphabet Wing has become the first company to receive Air Carrier Certification from the FAA. This means that it can begin commercial deliveries from local businesses to homes in the U.S.
Emerging Tech

A battery-free pacemaker harvests and stores energy from heartbeats

Researchers in China and the United States have developed a new battery-free pacemaker which gathers its required electricity from the energy of heartbeats. Here's why that's so exciting.