Image Source: ExtremeTech.com
Although drones have been around for a long time, last year they became one of the new tech crazes, with everyone from hobbyists to techies jumping on the drone wagon. Drone companies all around the world began to emerge announcing themselves to the public and the world became drone selfie mad. Like virtual reality, the flying machines start at very affordable prices meaning that every household is able to own at least one drone. Now you can purchase hobby drones for as little as 20 euros and they have fastly become a very popular toy for kids and grown ups of all ages.
But toys aren't the only thing that drones are being used for. More advanced models are changing the way that we live and helping us to advance towards a more efficient, safe and autonomous world, well at least they were until a pretty much world wide ban was put on the use of commercial drones.
In April 2014 Google invested in a company named Titan Aerospace, a startup that was involved with developing high tech solar powered flying robots that can cruise right on the edge of the earths atmosphere. One of the ways that Google planned to use this form of technology is to provide internet to areas of the world that have previously been unable to receive connection, as well as using their advanced photo taking skills to help provide a better service from Google Maps.
Google were not the only people to move into the world of autonomous drones, in fact, Facebook had actually spoken with Titan the year before Google acquired them. Facebook did not go for Titan though, instead they purchased a company back in Somerset in the UK named Ascenta. Facebook's plan with this purchase is again to provide internet around the world especially to remote areas that have been left without connectivity. This stage of the tech bubble officially saw Google and Facebook off from the starting blocks in one of the most advanced technical head to heads of our time.
More recently companies like Amazon have tried to use drones for commercial use for creating a very sophisticated autonomous delivery system, but their plans came to an abrupt halt once the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) decided to deny them the privilege. The FAA are not the only governing bodies that have placed bans on commercial drones, and in some cases even personal drones. India's Directorate General for Civil Aviation has banned both commercial and personal use of drones and on April 7th 2014, a memo released by the La Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aérea (AESA) (The State Aviation Safety Agency) said that “to avoid misunderstandings the use of these types of machines for commercial purposes is not aloud and never has been”.
With the very promising future of drone technology in aviation, the medical industry and disaster response, why has an almost global ban been put on the technology? One reason that comes up a lot is privacy, many drones have built in cameras and video recorders which would mean that everyone would have the ability to drop in on their neighbors and check out what they are having for their dinner, but it isn't like there is much privacy left in the world anyway, all you would have to do is check your neighbors Facebook page to see what they ate and how nice it was. Another reason is that some very silly people have almost caused major airplane accidents by flying their UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) directly into the flight path of commercial and private flights, this reason I understand, but it calls for better monitoring, not for bans to be put into place that are actually going to damage the growth of the economy.
When you look deeper into the reasons behind the bans, the reality becomes a lot more clearer, basically they just do not know how to regulate the technology, but more importantly, what would happen to the multi million dollar internet companies when Google and Facebook successfully implement free internet to the world? What would happen to government run and owned postal services? I think you can see the way I am going. As we move into a more technologically advanced era, tech companies are becoming more and more in control of the world we live in and this is something that I am sure makes the governments and internet service providers of the world feel uneasy.
One thing is for sure that no matter how many restrictions are placed on drones, they will eventually find their way and provide services that can better the quality of peoples lives, make people safer and no doubt save millions of lives. I hope to see the laws relax on commercial drones, but fully agree that they need to be regulated correctly in order to stop silly people from causing aviation accidents that will put peoples lives at risk.