August 25, 2015 update – the California State Assembly passed a law that makes flying drones at an altitude of less that 350 feet over private property trespassing. You can read more about it in the LA Times.
As technology becomes cheaper, the usage of drones is mushrooming. A drone is an unmanned flying vehicle, usually controlled by remote control. Recently, even the term drone sparks fear and loathing. From the United States military using them in war, to Amazon’s plans to introduce Prime Air drones for deliveries, news of drones is plentiful.
That said, drones do have some positive uses. A drone may have weaponry or cameras attached to it for various military applications. They may be used to navigate areas that are not accessible for firefighting or law enforcement. They could also be used to deliver packages, shoot video, or take photographs from a better angle. As long as you have a responsible pilot, there is not usually a problem.
By the same token, the abilities are part of the problem. Because drones can take video or photographs, it means if you are on the receiving end, your privacy can be violated. What good is having a privacy fence if drone operators are just going to circumvent them? It does not matter if you are a celebrity or not, the thought of being spied on is invasive. Private drones have also caused problems in firefighting because they can interfere with operations.
One gentleman recently took privacy matters in to his own hands. On a clear day, he witnessed a drone come over his privacy fence where his daughter was sunbathing. He immediately went for his gun, shot the drone out of the sky, and was arrested for doing so. He was also ordered to compensate the operators for the cost of the vehicle. The drone operators stated they were not over his property, but the gentleman felt they were. Until the FAA comes out with standard rules for use, there will be many questions and challenges regarding drones. One of the big problems is that technology is outpacing laws.
Another problem with drones is the potential for a cyber attack. On an unsecured frequency, a drone hacker could take control, and cause all sorts of problems. Some reports are suggesting there is already a big network of drone hackers, so unsecured drones could be a big threat.
Whereas there are many benefits in using drones domestically, as with anything, you have to take the good with the bad. These concerns may hinder growth in the drone industry. The question is, will people be able to accept drones because of the good points and overlook the bad points. The hope for these companies is that once there is some governance, perhaps people will be more accepting.