Unmanned aerial systems--drones--can be used to track hurricanes or make films. Or to surveil your neighborhood.
America’s use of drones–unmanned aerial vehicles–in wars overseas has been controversial for several years. Now the debate over drones has spilled over to their domestic usage.
Domestic drones have a variety of reasons. The “flying robots” can be used to track hurricanes and wildfires, and have great potential for filmmakers. And as long as operators keep them within sight, are flying them below 400 feet, staying away from populated areas and using them for non-business purposes, the Federal Aviation Administration does not require a license.
The FAA estimates there will be 30,000 drones dotting the skies by 2030. A quick Google search reveals drones available for purchase from several online retailers, with prices ranging from under $100 to about $3,000.
Hobbyists can buy drones in various sizes, with cameras attached already or with capabilities of camera attachment. Some are as small as three pounds and others have a wing-span as large as five feet.
Critics worry about the loss of privacy in public spaces and domestic drones being used for surveillance, a practice which the FBI admitted to back in June.
The FAA is considering changes to rules governing airspace for drones.
“There’s a lot of fear, but there’s also a lot of opportunity. It’s worth noting that these things are just tools, like any technology,” said Glenn Derene, senior tech editor for Popular Mechanics magazine.
Derene told The Cycle hosts that drones can be used for good–but need to be regulated.
“With a ten-mile radius, you don’t know who’s controlling it, you don’t really know where that person is, or what their intention is. And it really comes down to what the intention of the person operating the thing is.”
Watch the rest of Derene’s interview on unmanned aerial vehicles with The Cycle above.