Drones – a threat or an opportunity?

Small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), aka drones, are a rapidly emerging technology that has gained considerable popularity over the past few years. Sadly, a lot of (perhaps even too much) ‘ink’ has been spilled by the media to portray drones as some sort of sinister gimmick posing a threat to the public.

Stories range from somewhat laughable – as a Scottish gang who accidentally filmed themselves packing drugs to fly into a prison, to more serious as an alleged drone attack packed with explosives on the Venezuelan president, a drone barely avoiding a collision with a passenger aircraft in Luton or a Greenpeace drone intentionally crashed into a nuclear power plant in France.

Despite all that, the development of small drones certainly opens a door for new possibilities and ideas. From bird's-eye view photography and package delivery to security surveillance. Just imagine a drone with sensors so that when a possible trespass takes place the drone is notified and activated. On reaching the destination, the drone would capture live video footage of the intrusion and transmit it to a smartphone of the property owner or the police.

Whilst certain steps towards such and similar application of commercial drones have been taken elsewhere (most notable in the US and UAE), the application of this new technology in the UK is somewhat stifled by a patchwork of English aviation laws dating back to the 1980-s, when the Civil Aviation Act 1982 was first enacted. There is also off course data protection and privacy concerns, especially in view of the GDPR (quickly becoming the ‘favourite’ law for British businesses).

We ourselves feel very strongly that the government should relax the rules to facilitate further development and wider use of small drones for commercial purposes! However, we would be keen to know what other people and businesses think and invite people to express their view on this.

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