Drone Survival Guide helps you tell a Heron from a Hawk


This article was taken from the August 2014 issue of Wired magazine. Be the first to read Wired's articles in print before they're posted online, and get your hands on loads of additional content by subscribing online.

These objects may have names like Heron and Hawk, but this is no birdwatching guide -- it's for drones. Inspired by twitchers' field notes, Dutch designer Ruben Pater, 29, created the Drone Survival Guide, which illustrates 26 types of UAV, drawn to scale.

Pater is crowdsourcing translations of the leaflet online -- it's reached 32 languages -- and plans to add sound recordings this summer. "Some drones fly so high you can't see them, but you can hear them," he says. "People need to know if it's a Predator, or is someone playing around?"





Our ancestors could spot natural predators from far by their silhouettes. Are we equally aware of the predators in the present-day? Drones are remote-controlled planes that can be used for anything from surveillance and deadly force, to rescue operations and scientific research. Most drones are used today by military powers for remote-controlled surveillance and attack, and their numbers are growing. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predicted in 2012 that within 20 years there could be as many as 30.000 drones flying over U.S. Soil alone. As robotic birds will become commonplace in the near future, we should be prepared to identify them. This survival guide is an attempt to familiarise ourselves and future generations, with a changing technological environment.

This document contains the silhouettes of the most common drone species used today and in the near future. Each indicating nationality and whether they are used for surveillance only or for deadly force. All drones are drawn in scale for size indication. From the smallest consumer drones measuring less than 1 meter, up to the Global Hawk measuring 39,9 meter in length. 

Concept and design by Ruben Pater. Want to know more about the motivation behind this project? Read the FAQ.


English/Pashto edition. Offset printed on Chromolux ALU-E mirrored paper. Size 48 x 33 cm, folded to 12 x 17 cm, € 10 incl. shipping. Unfolded posters insent in tube available for €35. Order via paypal below.


The guide contains tactics for hiding from drones and interfering with the drones’ sensors, collected from various online sources. Health Ranger’s intelligence analysis of military drones: payloads,... and‘The Al-Qaida Papers - Drones’, Associated Press, Feb 2013. To keep this document widely available it can be downloaded in .pdf or .doc format. Send a new translation to us and receive a free printed Drone Survival Guide. All translations will be shared here. The Drone Survival Guide is collected and translated as a form of civil initiative, not for profit and without government or commercial funding and/or support. 

Want to know more? Read the FAQ


One of the techniques for misleading a drone's camera is putting reflective material on the rooftops of houses or cars (glass, mirror) to try to reflect sunlight into the drone's camera, making this poster a useful tool to interfere with the drone's sensors. On a more associative level the mirrored material reminds us that drone surveillance is ultimately people watching people. In a way we are looking at ourselves through sophisticated mirrors.

DISCLAIMER This document is for information purposes only, with the intent of free distribution of publicly available information. We do not condone violent or destructive behavior against people or property in any way or form. All content may be freely shared, adapted, and translation for non-commercial purposes.



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The authors of the translations are readers and users of this website. The authors of the translations, and the maker of this website, cannot be held accountable for the content of the translated texts.
Any person relying on any of the information contained on this web site or making any use of the information contained herein, shall do so at their own risk. 
The maker of this website hereby disclaims any liability and shall not be held liable for any damages including, without limitation, direct, indirect or consequential damages including
loss of revenue, loss of profit, loss of opportunity or other loss. The information contained on this website may be changed or updated at any time without notice.

If you see mistakes in any of the translation and wish to correct those, send me a message with a new text document with the changes highlighted.




Are drones dangerous? 
Drone is a popularized name for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) which is used to designate anything from a remote controlled toy quadcopter, to a CIA predator, to small unmanned planes used to monitor illegal fishing. Technologies are used for better or worse, and the same goes for drones. Drones are never dangerous as a phenomenon, but they can be used with harmful intent. We should be aware of how governments and other parties use them and if legislation and monitoring is properly installed. By promoting awareness I hope we can engage in a public discussion about for what purpose, and in what circumstances we should allow the use of drones.

Will the Drone Survival Guide (DSG) protect me from drones?
Of course not. The DSG is an art project to inform citizens worldwide about the dangers and capabilities of drones used by governments worldwide. It has some tips how to hide from the drone's sensors and how they work, but it is very naieve to think you will be safe if you follow these instructions if you were targeted by a drone with harmful intent. Even a small drone used as a toy can fall out of the sky and hurt you, so keep looking up!

Are you promoting actions of violence against drones?
Explicitly not. The DSG is intented for the purpose of sharing public information, and call for peaceful activism in creating awareness to limit the use of drones against people. This project is pacifist in nature and I am absolutely against all forms of violence against people or property.

Are you helping / aiding enemies of NATO with this guide?
Of course not. The drone countermeasures in the guide have been publicly available for years, in various newssources and blogs. They are not very sophisticated and most of them you could figure out yourself. They won't be of much help in an actual battle scenario. Note that 87 nations in the world have drones, so countermeasures apply to all sides. Please be aware that all of the countermeasures are about misleading the drone's sensors and I am against any violence against people or property.

What is that Arabic looking text on your guide?
It is not Arabic but Pashto, a language spoken in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Not coincidentally the area where most drones are deployed worldwide, and many civilians lose their life because of them. Making the DSG bilingual is a statement that we should remember to address not just an English speaking audience when we talk about peaceful activism. A goal for me would be to use the posters in the Pashto speaking area for educational and peaceful activist purposes, together with a local, non-political organisation.

Why are all these translations on the site?
Readers / visitors of the site sent me their translations because I put out an open call. I check the basics, but I am not able to check all the languages so I cannot promise the quality or the content of the translations is up to any standard. All translations are made available freely to use, and I think it is a great thing so many people are helping me. When your translation chosen for the site, you will receive a free poster.

How do I order?
You can use the Paypal link on the site. Price of one poster is 10 euro including shipping worldwide. Somehow the link takes you to a Dutch language environment and I don't know how to fix this. Try Google translate or changing the language within the paypal site. If you want more posters simply order several times or e-mail me for an international money transfer.

Who are you?
I am a self-employed artist/graphic designer from the Netherlands with an interest in coming up with projects that promote public discussion on issues that I think need to be discussed.

Who paid you? Are you affiliated with a political organisation?
This project I did as a civilian and I paid for the production myself. I did not receive any funding or subisidiary for making it and I am not affiliated with any political organisation. I am a self-employed artist/designer.

Cont.@ http://www.dronesurvivalguide.org/faq.html


Views: 1023

Replies to This Discussion

I downloaded the poster. This is very useful info, thanks!

Thanks Nikki, this is the kind of info folks need to be backing up and printing out for the future. I'm actually tempted to buy one of posters that they are offering.

Wow.  I clicked on the Wired link and was told I broke the interwebs.  Sorry, they can't help Me.  Heh.  Did They take the article down?


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