Should we be concerned about the Drones?

Controversy and debate continues over image capturing drones

It amuses me when I see news articles covering something which is pawned off as new technology. The drones are the newest technology which hits the spotlight. Yet, physician the technology and the practice of using such devices has been around for a while. However, like most controversial and debate topics, the roots of its use was in the government. It was only when someone decided that they could use the drone to do the same thing that the government has been doing for ages1 that this became an issue. So let us look at the drone and address some of the major points of debate to see if they are a help or a hinder.

The basic function

Drones, though pawned off as hobbyist toys and another electronic, are primarily for electronic surveillance. How the person that obtains a drone uses the feed is up to the user. And while not many people would be happy to see a web-capturing drone hovering outside of their bedroom window, most people would give enough credit that the general populace would not abuse the functions of the capturing devices. So where is the problem?

Like many technologies, the debate is over whether or not the drone poses a security risk to the general public. As such, the FAA and the EAA, and a bit of other government agencies have passed various restrictions on where, when, and what constitutes a drone. Interesting, laws have been in place against peeping toms and from obtaining information without warrants for years, but apparently extra regulations are needed to keep everyone feeling better.

A great deal of the fear of drone functionality is formed by error. Private drones have somehow merged, at least mentally, with those of government grade drones. And while some of the functions are the same, the scale, payload, flight duration, and the overall design are quite different. Yet, this has not stopped the private drone from being scrutinized and criticized for being offered to the general public.

When does it become more than a technological toy?

Personally, I find the ability to capture images from the height of a plane without being on a plane a relief. There are a few great lakes and natural settings which I think would look stunning captured from a drone. However, before breaking out with your drone and flying it around, you may want to check the FAA and ITAR report. According to a 2015 report if a drone has the capability of carrying 500kg or more and can travel more than 300kg it is considered a missile (but really who would have a drone able to carry over a thousand pounds). If the drone can stay in the air for more than 30 minutes, you have an unmanned aerial vehicle.

Why we should NOT be concerned

If you are worried about your privacy and security, the drone is the last thing you should be worried about. Yes, the drone could pose a threat for people spying on their neighbors and such. But here is a helpful tip, if you see anything flying outside of your yard that does not belong there, call the police. The odds are that if it is a drone they will check the neighborhood for the owner, and as most private drones do not have an extensive range of flight, the culprit will more than likely be found.

Additionally, the drone does not pose much of a security risk in terms of explosives. Yes, the recent development of courier’s using drones may open the door for an increase in security, but again if common sense is used a person can avoid opening suspicious packages. Furthermore, government buildings already have surveillance equipment in place which would detect a drone used for terroristic purposes. Movies and sci-fi have greatly exaggerated the capabilities of the image capturing drone. People need to remember that the drones depicted on the cinema are 3d models or drones which have had post production effects added.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that the private drone is just that private. Can it be abused, certainly, but so can a hand gun, a baseball bat, spray paint, and gasoline. If one considers the drone in the same class of the model airplane (which in most cases it is very similar) instead of being a newly developed technology in aviation, then one will see that the concerns posed are a bit superfluous. Instead of focusing on the negatives which a drone presents, innovators should be seeking out uses for the drones to benefit society as a whole. Where this debate does not seem to have an end in sight, it should not be targeted to the public sector but on those few drones which have the capacity to really pose a threat.

1 http://www.infoplease.com/us/government/spying-surveillance-timeline.html

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