Ah drones, a topic that will continue to evoke serious privacy concerns for the public – especially when these drones are being fitted with some pretty high quality cameras in some cases (as in up to 4K…). Furthermore, with drones set to take off (pun definitely intended) in the 2020s we also face the issue of their military use, and whether they are devices which the public should even have access to. These unmanned vehicles have garnered opposition for a few reasons, some of which i have listed below:
- Privacy Issues
- Use in the military
- No need for a license (yet) – some idiots use them near airports…
- If they run out of battery, they might fall out the sky
Sometimes I think people panic when there is a new sort of technology that people are not used to, and drones is in this similar category. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (also known as UAVs) are scary, as people are so used to have a pilot or someone that is physically able to control the vehicle. However, I don’t think they need to be banned, but rather regulated more stringently. Just like any other technology that appears controversial has been in the past. When the internet first started out, it took time for regulations to become more commonplace on the internet – and not many people are that scared about the internet now… Change can be a difficult thing to overcome.
After reading this, if you want to purchase a starter drone I recommend this one as it is inexpensive (between $30 and $60 depending on the package you choose).
Now lets get on to why I believe drones should not be banned.
Now there are known privacy issues with drones. The fact is that now you can buy drones with cameras that are of supreme quality, and this creates the potential for breaching privacy. I recently watched a movie called ‘Good Boys’ (a very funny movie if you are looking for something to watch), where they use a drone to spy on these girls to find out ‘how to kiss’. Either way, despite the fact that the boys are only kids, it creates a sense of awareness in the public about how drones can be potentially used for the worst (in the wrong hands). I previously mentioned in the past that a lot of things I discuss are simply just ‘tools’. What I mean by this is that a drone can be used to ensure that an area is safe or just used for the enjoyment of getting a different perspective of a given landscape. Although, it can also be used to breahc privacy.
In some states in the U.S. like California, it is actually illegal to spy on people without their consent. The fact that you are able to prosecute people for breaching this privacy is what needs to be implemented globally. The majority of people will refrain from doing something if the punishment is bad enough, at least in my opinion. More and more regulations will continue to be integrated into the law, as the devices become more widespread amongst the general public. Another option could be to have licenses for drones, where a background check ensures that the person has a clean record – this would increase the barrier to entry for getting a drone though, which could cause some upset among the general public (which is never a good option…).
Use in the military
Now I am not a supporter for equipping drones with guns or bombs, and flying them into war. The devastation that this cause is unreal, as we saw when the US used drones on Iran. People may disagree with me here, but give me your opinion if you do. I understand that protecting your own people is important, but drones are hardly advanced enough (at least from my knowledge) to be able to target specific individuals and ensure that only one person is targeted. There are usually far more casualties than just one.
I believe that drones should be used for surveillance. They allow commanders and generals to gain an insight easily into the terrain/layout of a specific building, which can make their tasks more efficient – as they have a sense of what they are getting into when they take the task head on. There is definitely a clear use for drones in the military, but there appears to be an ethical grey area that divides opinions on how drones should be used in this field.
No need for a license
This is something that for the majority of people poses no issue. On the other hand, there are a set few people that ruin the fun for the rest of us… if you read this story you can see how a drone shutdown Gatwick airport in the UK (BBC). These kind of issues are what causes the general public to say “people should need licenses to fly drones”. Firstly, what I will say are that there are set areas where you are not allowed to fly drones – like at airports, yet people still did it. After events like this, people that experienced the annoyances of this will take extra precautions to ensure that it never happens again. One such possible system that could be implemented more and more is the use of lasers (explained here), as they could essentially just immediately take down drones that fly into a set area. 18 of these systems have already been created to ‘zap drones’ as the article states.
Whenever problems arise with new technology, those that were severely annoyed or experienced financial losses, will do all they can to ensure that these similar issues never arise again. Having a license is possible but as I mentioned in previously, you will create an unnecessary opposition. Building systems that can prevent these issues are the best way to keep the public happy, and prevent any issues with drones in the future. Let me just make clear that in my opinion, these types of systems are a matter of when – not if.
They could fall out of the sky, if they run out of battery…
While this one is admittedly quite funny, it also poses some serious threats. Currently, it doesn’t appear to be a threat as there aren’t that many drones flying around. For one, if a drone falls out of the sky it could hit someone (a low probability at the current time), or it could just cause more environmental waste if you don’t find the drone quickly enough. Battery life on drones isn’t that great right now, and I’m sure that it will only improve in the future. Also, with technology getting smarter and smarter, one would assume that eventually they will be programmed such that if the battery gets to a certain level, that the drone flies back to the owner. This would prevent any of the issues that I have described above.
Some of these drones that can be used by the general public can weigh up to 25kg, and if that hits you out the sky then it will probably hurt a fair amount. Although, the reality is that most drones don’t weigh that much and the chance of one falling on you is far far lower than a bird taking a dump on your head (as there are currently far more bird than drones). So I wouldn’t worry about that either.
The video posted below illustrates what could happen if the drone runs out of battery, but this guy somehow managed to catch it!
Overall, I understand why people are wary of drones and want them banned for a number of reasons, but in reality much of these issues are what I would call ‘teething problems’. Whenever something new is created and gradually becoming more common amongst the public, there are going to be some initial issues. However, as markets work and people selling drones will want to sell more drones, they will ensure that all issues that people have with them will be sorted out in due course.
As a society, we react to problems more than we try to predict them. I think a similar dynamic will follow with drones, where the public will voice their concerns, and each concern will be appropriately dealt with, but it may just take some time.
If you wish to purchase a drone, this is the one I recommended earlier in this article.
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