THE FUTURE IS IN THE AIR: The Evolution of Drones

Keeping track of technology is tiring. We’ve become accustomed to it so quickly that there’s rarely a moment to process every new development. Most of the time, though, we’re not complaining. Life is getting easier with technology, and maybe the benefits of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are less obvious.

One day, the sky is seemingly clear and the next it’s full of unmanned, miniature planes – or, as we like to call them, drones. It might seem like a recent phenomenon, but these buzzing little critters have been around since 1916. Whether we like it or not, their evolution has shaped many global industries today.

While their recent introduction to the consumer market has been the most prominent development, they serve a multitude of other purposes, such as remote sensing, commercial aerial surveillance and disaster relief. This, however, is focused on UAV productivity and not the entire scope of their uses. This is a technology that must be sensitively introduced. Strict regulations are necessary for our personal rights and privacy.

Commercial Use

While drones have transformed the potential of obtaining live footage, their alternate uses at music festivals and similar events could be crucially pivotal. In light of the recent Las Vegas shooting, Coachella set a new benchmark for festival safety. Drones policed the sky and relayed a bird’s eye view to the festival’s security. Given the uncertain nature of threats at large scale events, this technology is invaluable.

An Expensive Hobby?

According to Time.com, the best drone is currently priced at $499. The DJI Spark is the drone maker’s first model to be controlled by hand gestures alone. It sits at approximately half the cost of DJI’s Mavic Pro, marking a significant milestone in falling drone prices. For recreational drones, there’s also a pretty impressive range between $50-$130. If you think that will set you back, the high-end XactSense Titan still sells for a whopping $120,000 USD.

Terms of Use

As a drone owner there’ll be a whole new world at your fingertips, but it’s still important to fly according to the rules. The current legal flying height in the US is no higher than 400 feet, as outlined in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act 2012(5).

Even in Australia, there are new laws to regulate the modern turn of aerial vehicles. You probably remember when a man was fined $9000 for using a drone to pick up a Bunnings sausage. In Australia, it is against the law to fly your drone in a way that creates hazard to another aircraft, person or property. The man, called Tim, thought it was all a bit of fun, but the Civil Aviation Safety Authority made an example of him.

The Flipside

With all the benefits UAVs have to offer, some people still can’t respect the laws. We’ve all heard the stories, but some of the worst include trespassing on government property and other prohibited areas, interfering with aviation safety, causing disturbances at large scale events, drug smuggling and other illegal activities, and impacting firefighting efforts because they have gotten too close to wildfire.

It is in everyone’s interest to keep drones evolving in a regulated framework. Privacy comes first. We definitely don’t want to find ourselves in a 1984-type of a surveillance state. If you want to get in on the action, obey the laws and avoid the trouble.

Drones are, very likely, a window to our future, and it has become clear that the law moves along to supervise the unmanned and the revolutionary.

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