STORY BY ELLEN KOESTER
The first time I saw a drone, I was in a Verizon Wireless store looking at the newest Apple gadgets. Off in the corner, one of the employees was doing a demonstration in the other side of the store.
My first impression of the drone was that it was big and loud. I don’t think I can properly convey how popular it was among the customers. Everyone in the store, including me, was drawn to it, mainly because the noise alone turned heads. I remember the employee, who walked my parents through their new Verizon plan, was a little irritated that the robot distracted us. We had to have him repeat everything a few times.
His frustration was understandable. When the drone held a customer’s attention, it held it and refused to let go. All the drone did was hover a few feet off the ground, but it still created quite a stir.
My own experience accurately parallels with the country’s reaction to drones. There is a distinct curiosity among consumers. However, there is also a distinct fear among some, which is understandable. There have already been some troublemakers among drone users who are ruining the hobby and art for others. Drones create headaches for firefighters, security forces and airplane pilots.
In-air collisions are the biggest danger that drones pose. There have been many near misses between small aircrafts and drones, a confrontation that could become deadly for pilots.
Drones also pose a huge security risk. They can carry objects such as bombs, gas or even guns (which a YouTube video clearly shows that drones can fire from the air) toward their targets.
It is completely understandable that the Federal Communications Commission would wish to impose regulations on the hobby. There are many possibilities when it comes to drone use. Drones can be used for spying, attacks on the public and for many other uses that pose a danger to the community.
Most drone operators will use drones properly; however, there are always a few who— by accident or by intention– find a way to use new technology for harm. In order to protect the masses from these few, regulations need to be enacted.
The new policy is in no way punitive for drone users. According to NBC, the Federal Aviation Administration will simply require drone operators to register their drone, a registry they hope to put into place before the holiday season. This will actually have some advantages for the operators. Since drones are very a new technology, there are not well-defined guidelines on the hobby yet. When operators register, the FAA is planning to clearly outline the regulations, making it easier for operators to legally operate their drones in peace.
The main purpose of the new regulation is to keep operators accountable. As of now, operators can break whatever laws they wish anonymously. Unless they record themselves on the device, the FAA has no idea who owns what drone. The new law will hopefully bring some responsibility to the art.
While the FAA has said there will be “punitive” actions taken against operators who break the law, they have not specified what these actions will be.
I am surprised that the FAA hasdnot imposed such a policy sooner. Drones are becoming more and more popular among consumers and as more of them are being sold, the possibility of someone getting harmed as a direct result of drone use increases