In a recent article on the Drone Age, The Economist reports that, back in 2010, America’s Federal Aviation Authority suggested that by 2020 there would be as many as 15,000 drones in the country.
They had no way of knowing that by 2015, that would be the number of drones sold every month in the US alone. And it’s growing!
Drones have captured the imagination of a generation.
We are currently in the honeymoon period.
Most people haven’t been up close and personal. A bird’s eye view is still a thrill.
It is still novel to see one in your vicinity, unless of course you live in L.A, where a quiet beach walk is all but impossible because of the drone of, well…drones.
So what of regulation?
How are we going to prevent the skies being polluted by our latest toys because it seems you can regulate to your heart’s content but those regulations are hard to police.
Getting licensed and insured is costly for commercial drone operators in territories where regulation exists and without those overheads, illegal operators can work cheaper, and we haven’t even addressed privacy issues.
Recently, Irish telecom giant ‘Eircom’ spent 16 million re-branding to ‘Eir’.
As part of that campaign their ad revealed a stunning aerial shot over Skellig Michael Island off the Kerry coast.
While the drone operator was licensed, permission was refused by the relevant body (OPW) to use the location and it landed ‘Eir’ in hot water.
Who’s going to get their wrists slapped for that one?
The drone operator, the ad agency, Eir themselves or the p.a who didn’t understand the complexities of aerial filming?
Europe is ahead of the US when it comes to regulating drones, but their future proliferation will be challenging.
Advances in technology will mean extended flying times coupled with object evasion capabilities and even bio screening.
There are uses for drones that we haven’t even thought of yet and used correctly and responsibly, they are a wonderful thing.
But we have yet to put in place the Darwin regulation, you know, the regulation specifically for the individual who thinks it’s ok to fly under a runway approach path!