No, we’re not talking about airborne dogfights or hobby drones equipped with mini ‘drone seeking missiles’. Here we are talking about the rapid commercial and industrial progress being made with regard to drones and their use. There would appear to be three sectors, all with a common thread, the drone, albeit in very differing forms.
You have what we would refer to as the practical use of a drone – whether in warfare, espionage or search and rescue, the use of these drones has an immediate impact on the lives of fellow human beings, though clearly, to a degree, at polar ends of the scale. While the US military continue to develop their own drones Ford, the car manufacturer, is progressing apace with its development of a drone system for emergency situations where a drone can be flown from within one of their vehicles via integrated software, instrumentation and controls.
According to wired.com “Ford’s also getting into the drone game, kinda. It joined Chinese drone manufacturer DJI in sponsoring a challenge to develop drone-to-vehicle communication software. Such a system would let United Nations officials or relief workers control a drone, which might be flying over, say, a disaster zone, from the dashboard display in a Ford F-150 pickup and observe what’s happening in real time.”
Then we have the commercial drone. The sole purpose of the use of this type of drone is to make money. From parcel delivery – Amazon’s supposed innovation yet one already used widely throughout China, to aerial photography, the commercial prospects for drone use are quite staggering and in ten years’ time it will be difficult to imagine how we managed to survive without them.
Finally, we come to the currently most popular use of drones, for pleasure, as here we are talking about the hobby drone, or ‘toy’ as so many of those pressing for considerable regulation of these aircraft refer to them. With what is believed to have been over a million drones bough as presents last Christmas, there is no question that there needs to be regulation, but what form should it take? Sure, everyone wants to make sure that any accidents and incidents are limited, but do you feel the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) have done enough for the time being with their requirements regarding registration and restrictions on where you can fly drones? Okay, you can never take human error and or stupidity out of the equation and accidents will happen, like the one involving two ‘drones’ of a different type but both still classed as drones, or UAVs – a helicopter and model airplane – the results are quite dramatic!
The question remains – do we opt for heavy ‘censorship’ through increased legislation, or do we accept that restrictions can only be kept to an enforceable minimum? Our concern here at Quadcopters.com is aligned with that of popularmechanics.com in an article written about the popularity of drones and the problems being created through a lack of regulation. In the article they reported on Congressman Peter DeFazio of Oregon, (the head of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in Congress), who stated that: “Some legislators would like to see hard limits placed on UAVs capabilities. A lot of what pilots are seeing is irresponsible use of toys. The toys, in my opinion, should be set up so they can’t be sold unless they’re geo-fenced for altitude and perimeters.”
As we see it, unless drone users push for legislation that reaches a decent compromise and attempts to limit the incidents of reckless flying, then we drone pilots will become subjected to laws and legislation imposed by those who don’t fly drones, who don’t understand that the great majority of pilots are responsible people, who just don’t ‘get it’ at all, and we will end up having drone software installed in every machine that will limit so severely what we can do with them that they will no longer be fun to fly.