Someone Made a Full-Scale Version of the City Scanner Drones from 'Half-Life 2'

City Scanners were the menacing drones that patrolled Half-Life 2's setting of City 17, keeping watch on its citizens to make sure they don't step out of line.

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May 30 2016, 12:00pm

Image: Valplushka

So just last weekend I wrote about how Valve CEO Gabe Newell has avoided talking about Half-Life 3 for the better part of the decade, but it gets much, much worse than that. The wait for the sequel to the legendary first-person shooter Half-Life 2 has gone on for so long that today's technology is already catching up with the science fiction of the game. Indeed, a Russian named Valentin Demchenko already made a working City Scanner.

City Scanners were the menacing drones that patrolled Half-Life 2's setting of City 17, keeping watch on its citizens to make sure they don't step out of line. Down they'd swoop from surrounding buildings with their cameras and flashlights, and protagonist Gordon Freeman would swat them with his crowbar as they ventured too close to his immaculately trimmed beard.

Metallic, dark, and capped with a glowing red eye, they also tapped into early fears about government surveillance in the years immediately after the tragedies of September 11. Though products of an alien civilization, they seemed just advanced enough to seem plausible, particularly in a world where almost everything else greatly resembled settings we know from real life.

And now there's a life-sized one flying about the fields and abandoned buildings around Saratov, Russia. According to Demchenko's Russian description on YouTube, it's 2.7 feet long and 1.9 feet high and built mainly out of carbon fiber and expanded polystyrene. He used AX-2810Q-750KV Brushless Quadcopter motors to get it up in the air, a DJI Naza-M Lite as a flight controller, and a GoPro camera to hunt down fugitive Black Mesa scientists.

Not surprisingly, Demchenko claims it flies better in the absence of wind, although the video above shows it does fine outside on still days.

It's almost beautiful in its subtle terror. It almost doesn't seem real. Should you find yourself falling prey to disbelief, though, you'd do well to check out Demchenko's other video chronicling the construction of the device.