Dr. Peter Asaro on Drone Technology in Eye in the Sky

Publication Type: 
Other Writing
Publication Date: 
April 19, 2016

I have been asked by Science & Film to review the realism of EYE IN THE in terms of the new technologies we see deployed in the film. Most of the technologies employed in the film narrative have some basis in reality, though many are still in very early stages, or proof-of-concept, and remain far from the reliable and useful technologies depicted in the film.

EYE IN THE SKY is a contemporary military drama starring Helen Mirren and the late Alan Rickman, in his last on-screen appearance, in the respective roles of a United Kingdom colonel and general. It was written by Guy Hibbert and directed by Gavin Hood, who also directed Ender’s Game. The narrative of the film begins with an attempt to capture terrorist suspects in Kenya, but evolves into a tense drama over whether to launch a drone strike in order to avert a terror plot, and the morally challenging questions of proportionality given the risk to civilians in the area of the strike. The accuracy of film’s depiction of the military chain-of-command and political control over this fictional joint U.K.-U.S. drone strike in Kenya is also an interesting question of realism, for another review.

Of course, the armed General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper drone technologies have been around for more than a decade, and are depicted with a great deal of accuracy in the film. These drones are remotely operated by pilots and sensor operators who can be thousands of miles from where the drones are flying. In this case, a U.S. drone pilot, played by Aaron Paul, is stationed at Creech Air Force Base outside of Las Vegas. The film depicts these operators using touch screens, which are not available in the older ground control stations depicted, but are available in the recently updated ground control stations that include multiple screens and joysticks used for videogames.

Read the full post at Sloan Science & Film