Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones, are being used more and more in U.S. and U.K. military operations, where manned flight is considered too risky or difficult. Drones are making their way into everyday use as technology gets more sophisticated and regulators loosen restrictions on the usage of these unmanned aircraft vehicles. In the last month, over ten incidents have occurred where drones have interfered with a commercial flight in airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration has attempted to outlaw or limit commercial use of drones, but experts believe there are better ways to regulate usage in a safe manner.
Drones are controlled from a remote location where take-off and landing are controlled locally, while the flight might be controlled from an airbase. In the military, the images that the drone is able to see from above are transferred to troops on the ground, and in some cases the drone will contain weapons that it is able to fire on selected targets. In a non-military setting, drones can be used to bring an object from one place to another, or obtain video coverage of an area, without the need for a pilot. Today's drones can fly for over 30 hours nonstop, which allows for international use from a single location. In an effort to expand the usage of drones to Europe, large drone-maker Northrop Grumman has been in recent talks with Germany, Britain, and Norway to sell its high-altitude surveillance drones.
An example of drones possibly being integrated into everyday use is with Amazon, a massive e-commerce corporation, who is planning on using drones to deliver its products in the future. This will involve mass amounts of drones flying through airspace in order to reach not only local destinations but international destinations as well. These drones will be carrying packages and products that are less than five pounds, while the larger packages will still be delivered via truck. Also, Disney has just filed a patent application for the use of drones. The company will use drones for unique aerial displays at their theme parks. Even police forces have a plan to integrate drones into traffic monitoring and fugitive tracking. Most international logistics companies have remained quiet about progress in their drone development, but reports have found that UPS is seeking to use drones to move products from major airports or cities to pick-up centers in remote locations. Those who are against drones argue it will ruin the airspace above our world's largest cities, allow spies to access private locations, and pose threats to our environment.
With the FAA's strict rules on unmanned aircraft, these companies, plus many others seeking to use drones for business, will have to find a way to convince the FAA that their usage is safe and reliable. It will be interesting to see if researchers and developers will be able to find a way to make these drones safer and smarter in order to eliminate the dangers currently surrounding the use of drones. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) estimates that the drone industry will be worth over $80 billion and create over 100,000 jobs in the next ten years if the FAA allows companies to use them for business. Countries and continents will be more connected than ever, and deliveries will be completed at much higher speeds than today. How can the use of unmanned aircraft be properly regulated?