No Fly Drone

Drone delivering Pizza

Photo courtesy of Smartplanet.com One day...

Kevin Chiang, Photojournalist

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, are an increasingly important part of modern life. Senior Kyle Yang stated that he “[sees] a lot of places where people can use drones in the future.” And he’s right. Even now they inspect power lines, shoot film, and perform search and rescue missions. In the future they’ll send cargo cross-country, spread internet throughout the world, deliver packages (which may or may not include delicious pizza), and could even give you a traffic ticket.

 

So why don’t we see more of them?

 

In short, it’s the FAA. They’re currently wrapped up in trying to figure out how to add drones to the skies without creating mass panic. It’s important to realize that taking a sky full of jets and helicopters manned by experienced, onboard pilots and adding smaller jets and helicopters that are piloted by giddy, reckless, and twitchy normal people who are far, far away from them can result in quite a traffic jam.  Heck, a few weeks ago, someone’s drone got attacked by a hawk. In midair. It’s awesome. On the other hand, a man in New Jersey shot down his neighbor’s drone, and the courts haven’t decided if he’s in the right (the drone was a threat) or the wrong (the drone was his neighbor’s property).

 

However, the FAA recently announced that movie producers can use drones to shoot films. “A lot of movies are shot with drones already, and now that Hollywood can use them, I think a lot of movies are going to start using them,” said Kyle. Still, this doesn’t mean the skies will soon be buzzing with robots. If it took this long for the FAA to say that drones are okay for movies, how long will it take them to say that they can be used to deliver packages?

 

A side effect of this slowness is that the commercial drone industry in the U.S. is stuck in the pooper. Other countries have been developing drones (even if, in the case of Iran, it’s held together by duct tape). In France, hobbyists gather in the forests to compete in sci-fi inspired races. The drones all have forward-facing cameras, so pilots see through the eyes of the drone, as they try to steer their robot through three laps faster than their competitors and without colliding with the trees or other obstacles in the woods. Canada has been using drones to help in policing. Meanwhile, America has just been allowed to make mad aerial shots in movies. Good job, America.