Every day I hear another story on the news of a drone launch gone bad, or a drone being used for amazing purposes, so I thought I would give some insight on how I feel about the growing technology and its potential uses.
The issue of privacy seems to be the number one concern among citizens around the world about drones and private activity, and it should be. It’s no coincidence that in-browser privacy features are on the rise and that millions in the US feel victimized after Snowden leaked the NSA’s surveillance practices. Drones expose an entirely new dimension of this continuing debate about privacy.
Given that drones now have the ability to follow people, take pictures, and take video, this opens up a whole new area that can be used to the government’s advantage in counter-terrorism operations and threats. However, it becomes the same debate surrounding the Patriot Act – when do preventive measures become too much?
This argument really comes down to who you’re talking to. If I work for the government, I am most likely going to support this decision to use these for surveillance purposes, given that it helps me achieve my goals within my agency. If I don’t work for the government, I am going to be extremely worried about the new information that can be collected about me and the government now more than ever watching over my shoulder.
My answer: Drones being used for surveillance, whether for government or private investigating purposes infringe upon the right to privacy granted to people in the United States.
I have seen some pretty cool videos of people flying their drones around the park, or making some really awesome film with them. However, this presents an obvious safety risk to people in the area. Drones have the potential to lose connection and fall to meet their demise, or the pilot could lose control of the drone. And what happens to the people walking below? Blade meets fragile skull does not bode well for the public image of drones.
My answer: Although drones are fun to fly and watch, they not only become a distraction in public parks, but also a safety hazard, whether it opens up the medium of transporting explosives, or just the blades coming too close to other unsuspecting passersby.
Lately, I have read some really interesting articles surrounding the use of drones in a scientific setting, from monitoring oceans to observing the environment, and an increasingly popular use of humanitarian aid. Despite the popular vision of drones as flying vehicles, oceanographers are using them as floating torpedo-like instruments that can send pings to the ocean floor and map it, and use other instruments on board to measure oxygen levels, plankton, and other things like that.
National parks around the world are beginning to use drones as an effective solution to combat poaching in their parks, providing live video feed and leading authorities to violators of the law. This has proven to be effective in combatting this destructive action and allowed for the greater protection of animals across the world.
What I thought was an original idea of mine had also been progressing through other people’s minds as well, and now the use of drones to help in humanitarian aid is growing. Organizations are now able to use drones to deliver “care packages” to unsafe disaster areas, or survey the damage to determine which course of action to take in helping save the stranded people.
My answer: This is the greatest possible use for drones in my opinion, allowing for oceanographic research, monitoring the environment, and potentially being used for humanitarian aid issues.
This is one of the most popular topics surrounding the controversy over the legality of drones. We have seen this with Amazon and other delivering companies. However, there are skeptics of the system that have the fear of safety (similar to recreational use) and are worried about shotgun-toting people trying to bring the drones down.
There is also the fear of the possibility of theft. Because drones are not very secure, it would be very possible to either re-route one and steal the drone and the goods, or reach up and grab your neighbor’s new Kindle. And to combat this solution, the drones would need to fly higher, but the you have personal aircraft and commercial aircraft – something the FAA has struggled to come up with a solution for.
My answer: At this point in time, no company has found a viable solution towards how to distribute products or services through drones. Plus, avoiding unsatisfied trigger-happy shotgun-wielding citizens would make for a dangerous and costly outcome. So no. Sorry Amazon.