2499: Abandonment Function

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Abandonment Function
Remember to only adopt domesticated drones that specifically request it. It's illegal to collect wild ones under the Migratory Drone Treaty Act.
Title text: Remember to only adopt domesticated drones that specifically request it. It's illegal to collect wild ones under the Migratory Drone Treaty Act.


This is another one of Randall's Tips, this time a Tech Tip.

Pet abandonment is a situation of concern among biological pets, and is part of the reason there are animal rescue organizations providing for adoption in most regions. Since drones are automated, they can be programmed to have an automatic abandonment function.

In reality, this "abandonment function" is the norm that things left outside homes are often considered gifts for any passersby who would like them. Hence, following the instructions in the webcomic may result in one's drone disappearing for a new owner, but not for the reason depicted.

With the drone responsible for flying to find its own new owner, one can possibly imagine it becoming more and more "fervent" as its charge runs down, to prevent the accumulation of derelict drones in the streets.

Triggering abandonment based on extended close proximity to the device's own controller could produce issues such as accidental activation, or malicious activation by a party who could send the proximity signal from a great distance, possibly to many drones at once, via software defined radio. It is, however, more likely that being left consciously uncontrolled for an extended period is the actual trigger, with the attachment of the controller being more a direct courtesy to the next adoptive-owner, and/or preventing the loss of carrier signal that would instead activate whatever auto-homing (i.e. return-to-launch-point) behavior the more sophisticated drones may use if ever beyond their pre-programmed flight parameters.

The concept of there being "wild" vs "domesticated" drones rings again both of wildlife and pets, and of new intelligent software providing for drones acting on their own. In the latter case, protection for "wild" drones could imply many things about the role of artificial intelligence in society. Did we organize the wild drones to obey our laws, or are we protecting them in fear of being punished by their superior power? A foreign military drone could also be considered a wild drone.

But more likely Randall is imagining flocks of abandoned drones, fending for themselves, traveling distances as they survive off of seasonally-dependent charging resources. This is similar to the behavior of birds, which are protected (in the U.S.) by the real-world Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Aggressive flocks of drones was used in 1630: Quadcopter and drones has become a recurring theme on xkcd, where also training of drones as a pet has been the subject in 1881: Drone Training.

This idea of protecting drones is analogous to the anomaly that misbehaving drones have not been well tracked by law enforcement: https://observer.com/2020/01/drone-flock-mystery-baffling-authorities/ . If computer viruses continue to evolve, wild drones could indeed evolve too, as they are directed by software, but usually a human being or organization is considered to be somewhere at the helm (separately) of both computer viruses and drones.

The idea that a drone may choose of its own volition whether to find a new owner or join a wild flock is a little similar to the situation for abandoned pets.


[A multi-Rotor drone is seen flying though the air from left to right. Tied below the drones main body is the drone's own remote controller. Movement lines behind drone indicate a wavery flight path. A voice emanates from the drone:]
Drone: Hi, I'm yours now! Please charge me!
Drone: Hi, I'm yours now! Please charge me!
[Caption below the panel:]
Tech Tip: If you ever get tired of a toy drone, tie the controller to it and set it outside. Its abandonment function will activate and it will find a new home.

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Don't know much about drones (I don't make, use, or program them) but I do believe the higher end models have a function where if they lose signal for a time they 'abandon' their current directed flight and either attempt a return (reverse vector) or landing (descent); i.e. the exact opposite of what the comic describes. someone with more familiarity with drones could probably tell you what that signal loss protocol is called but my guess it's either based on the word abandon, or it's esxact opposite (return?) 22:23, 7 August 2021 (UTC)

Yep, that's definitely what it's referring to. They drone will register that it hasn't had a signal in X amount of time, and have a programmed response to that lack of signal. This is called an Abandonment Function and differs from drone to drone, but the basic idea is to prevent the drone just flying in a straight line until it runs out of charge. [[Special:Contributions/172-- 05:53, 9 August 2021 (UTC).70.122.74|]] 07:02, 8 August 2021 (UTC)
It sounds like another interpretation of the comic is that Randall has found a way of preventing this real function from activating. Baffo32 (talk) 09:33, 8 August 2021 (UTC)

The Migratory Drone Treaty Act is presumably a reference to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it a federal crime to take birds or bird parts, including feathers, or to kill birds without special permission from the Secretary of the Interior. The MBTA also prohibits any person from using bait to take migratory birds, or for someone to hunt in areas they know or reasonably should know are baited. 22:11, 7 August 2021 (UTC) dww (This comment initially added to the main page. Moved into here by someone just trying to help, hopefully not making it messy.)

Just in case a direct reference for the MBTA is needed, it can be found under 16 U.S. Code § 703 and 50 CFR § 10.14. 01:25, 8 August 2021 (UTC)

Tomorrow (Mon 09 Aug 2021, or Tue 10 in my time zone) will be the 2500th comic! -- 05:53, 9 August 2021 (UTC)

Manual adding.

I think someone's uploaded the _2x image, etc, rather than following the emergency instructions. I can't correct that bit myself, as I am now, so I'll prompt someone who can instead. 22:55, 7 August 2021 (UTC)

 What else needs to happen when a new page is made?
 I'm on mobile so editing is pretty hard [citation needed] but I started it!
 Does anyone have editing privileges to add a link to dgbrt's bot to maybe the bottom of the discussion template, or anywhere people will see repeatedly, so everybody learns how to make new pages when needed?

(The above few lines courtesy of User:Baffo32 - extracted from the broken Incomplete tag when it was somewhat fixed.)

Seems to me that Randall has begun displaying the x2 image on the front and if so then that is the picture we should use as well. The name of the file is not important, the important part is that we use the version displayed on xkcd. So I do not think we should change this. But anoying the Bot failed! --Kynde (talk) 10:32, 10 August 2021 (UTC)
The coding of the site is the same as it has been since the x2 pics started. It shows the x2 version when your browser zoom or DPI is high enough. On Chrome, I get the x2 version if I zoom in to 125% or higher. I personally think it would be better if this site used the x2 versions, as they look pretty much the same at 100%, but look better at higher DPI or zoom settings. Trlkly (talk) 21:23, 10 August 2021 (UTC)