1846: Drone Problems
Title text: On the other hand, as far as they know, my system is working perfectly.
Megan is frustrated because people are flying drones too close to her, so she builds a system to shoot them down. She shows it to Cueball, who clearly is also excited about the idea and helps spot the drones. However, each of the drones gets accidentally destroyed by its own pilot because of their inability to fly the drones before Megan can destroy them herself. After three hours of unsuccessful drone hunting, a frustrated Megan complains about people unable to fly the drones, which prevents her (and Cueball) from having fun shooting them down. The joke is that she originally created the system to get rid of the drones, so the lack of drones should be the desired output - and now she wants the drones nearby (even if only temporarily).
This comic is a follow up on 1842: Anti-Drone Eagles, and confirms that Cueball prefers technological air-defense systems to biological measures.
The title text refers to the fact that from the pilots' perspective, the system is successful at keeping all the drones away from the house, even though in reality the system has not had a chance to be successful yet.
While Megan attributes the repeated drone crashes to poor pilot skill, a possible source for the drones' sudden loss of control is hinted at in panel two, in which the target drone crashes immediately after Megan's device (equipped with a miniature parabolic dish) attempts to "lock on" to the drone in question. While a small and fast-moving drone may be difficult to hit, the control system that directs its movements is easily interfered with (either by overwhelming the RF signal controlling it, or by using microwaves to induce short circuits in sensitive electronics). The irony here being that the targeting system for Megan's anti-drone device unintentionally appears to be more effective than the actual weapon it is designed to guide, disabling the drones so quickly that the "real" weapon is unable to be tested.
It may also be a reference to the May 30, 2017 FTG-15 test of the United States GMD missile defense system, where an interceptor kill vehicle destroyed a test ICBM missile. From the perspective of a US adversary, such as North Korea (whose missiles the system is allegedly targeted at), "as far as they know, the system is working perfectly," as the test was declared to be a success. But substantial controversy has dogged the missile defense system for decades, as critics have alleged it is vulnerable to trivial countermeasures. But "as far as they know" strongly implies that the text following it is not in fact true, i.e. the system does not work perfectly.
Another possible secondary joke is that the drones were flying near her because the pilots can't fly properly. Yet another possible take on the joke is that Megan's system is actually effective, but Megan is not aware it's been activated.
Megan previously had a laser canon to shoot down squirrels in 382: Trebuchet, so this is not the first time she has built a device for shooting things down.
- [Megan is sitting on her knees at the porch in front of a house with a smartphone in one hand and operating with her other hand a dish-antenna pointing into the sky. Cueball comes walking up towards the stairs up to the porch while he is looking back and up over his shoulder and pointing into the air.]
- Megan: People in the park keep flying drones near me, so I've built a system to shoot them down.
- Cueball: Cool! Oh yeah, there's one now.
- Megan: Time for a test!
- [Zoom in on Megan with the device on the porch with Cueball still at the bottom of the stairs leading down. She is operating her phone, which can be seen to be connected with a wire to the dish-antenna device. Cueball is looking away from her and down.]
- Megan: Okay, locking on…
- Cueball: Wait, it just crashed.
- Megan: Damn.
- [Cueball has walked up the stairs and are standing behind Megan at the door. Megan is now looking up into the sky while still sitting with her phone in front of the device.]
- Cueball: Here comes another one! Aim for… nope, it got stuck in a tree.
- [Cueball is now sitting on the porch with a half full drinking glass in one hand leaning back on the other hand. Megan is gesturing at her device while holding her phone down. Above the top part of the frame there is another smaller frame overlaid with a caption:]
- Three hours later…
- Cueball: Finally, two more just— no, one crashed and the other is hurtling sideways toward the lake.
- Megan: Will you people learn to fly these things?!
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