The Future Life: Drones, drones, drones!

They're watching you.

Image from Salon.com

It’s a bright, beautiful spring day. You find yourself walking down the sidewalk, probably talking on your cellphone or something (or enjoying nature if you’re one of those people). The sweet-smelling breeze, the sing-songy birds, and the other people outside with you make for a pretty nice day. If there was going to be one thing that ruins your day, it’s going to be the drone flying around 60,000 feet above that pretty little head of yours. Damn drone, screwing up your nice spring day.

Drones might be something that you’ve seen on the news as they’ve been in existence for quite some time. Military entities use them for unmanned missions around the world, there are also consumer versions available for those of us that want to fly around a small hexacopter (who wouldn’t?!), and even Amazon is testing them as a delivery method. It’s clear that these flying machines will be taking up airspace at some point.

And that’s one of the many problems that these drones have brought up. The FAA, almighty commanders of the air, calls them UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and is in the process of writing the laws that they will follow in the coming years. As of now, the FAA has a roadmap of getting these laws in place.

In an official FAA press release, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stated:

“Government and industry face significant challenges as unmanned aircraft move into the aviation mainstream, this Roadmap is an important step forward that will help stakeholders understand the operational goals and safety issues we need to consider when planning for the future of our airspace.”

It’ll certainly be difficult to get UAVs into the public airspace safely, but it seems as though its possible.

One of the more pressing problems that come from the creation of drones is their ability to silently surveil. Most civilian drones offer the capability to capture video using an onboard camera and this should be, at the very least, a little alarming to people. Today, it’s possible to buy a personal smartphone-controlled drone and fly it around while looking through the drone’s camera. A part of the FAAs roadmap is finding a solution to this. It could be a real privacy problem. With the near-silent flight that these aerial vehicles can achieve mixed with onboard cameras don’t exactly make for the feeling of ease in my gut.

Don’t get me wrong. As far as futuristic technology goes, drones are pretty awesome. The problem I have is that, similar to lots of other futuristic technology, it all depends on who is using it and how easily these amazing little aircrafts have the ability to disrupt our lives.

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