Drones are flying everywhere, sometimes doing nefarious things.
They've been caught dropping contraband inside prisons, bringing drugs over the border, and even surveilling sensitive government locations.
Until recently, it was nearly impossible to find out who they belonged to. But one company, vtolabs, specializes in retrieving data from drones—even if the devices are damaged.
"There's a ton of information that comes off of drones," said CEO Steve Watson
The company has figured out how to get hidden information off a drone. That allows police to track it back to its owner.
"You can find where the drone took off, what its flight path was, where it landed,” explains Watson. “You can find the previous flights that it's flown, how fast it flew, how high it flew. You can find the users registered information--their e-mail address. Sometimes their home address and some drones. We've even seen credit card information."
Sometimes Watson’s team find chips that have been underwater or left in the sun, but Watson says they can still get the data. He's run tests to prove it.
"So far we have 100 percent success rate pulling the data off of all of the scenarios I described."
So even if the general public isn’t flying drones illegally, Watson’s research shows how your data can live on even in extreme circumstances.
"The thing we have been looking for is the point of catastrophic damage where the data is no longer accessible," Watson says.
When The NOW asked Watson if vtolabs has reached that point yet, he stated emphatically, "We have not yet."