• Sofia Eugeniou

Drones still considered a public threat

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

Researchers are aiming to start an open drone database to help design radar systems and drone detection techniques.


Research teams from Aalto University (Finland), UCLouvain (Belgium), and New York University (USA) have gathered extensive radar measurement data, aiming to improve the detection and identification of drones.


Radar technology is one of the best solutions to monitor the presence of drones and prevent possible threats.


Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), otherwise known as drones, are widely used for mapping, remote sensing and aerial photography, rescue operations, law enforcement and even agriculture.


Despite their potential for improving public safety and aiding in the various fields of science, research and food production, there are key concerns that surround the use of domestic drones in the public sphere:

Image credit Civil Service World

  • Safety


Drones, in general, do not bode well with other forms of aircraft. As drones cannot see where they are going, the solution is to often require other aircraft to "stay out of the way" whilst they carry out their business. Where this isn't possible, potentially harmful collisions in the sky can happen.


There are also concerns that drones may accidentally land and hurt people, such as package delivery services hitting innocent bystanders.


  • Security

A key worry is the use of drones as flying bombs, to be utilised by those seeking to instil terror and harm to humanity.


Drones are also commonly used by gangs and those involved in criminal activities as an 'eye in the sky', overlooking operations and ensuring they are kept under wraps from outsiders and law enforcement.


  • Privacy

The issue of privacy is two-parted when using domestic drones. Firstly, drones raise the 'Big Brother is Watching' issue - why should we, as innocent and good-to-do civilians, be comfortable with constant surveillance? Most of the time, people aren't doing anything worth watching anyway!


The second problem is one of public snooping - UAVs give the average citizen access to spy on other people, such as their neighbours. The concern here is that this form of snooping can be construed as a "hobby", that often cannot be regulated against.


  • Public nuisance

Local governments cannot usually write ordinances prohibiting the flight of drones, except where they can be based on noise, hazard or other somewhat legally grey objections.


One perfect example of just how much nuisance drones can cause is highlighted by the temporary closure of Gatwick Airport less than two years ago. The closure of the airport, which occurred between 19 - 21 December 2018, caused hundreds of flight cancellations following reports of drone sightings close to the runway.


It is expected that drone usage will continue to rise - how we control their use is still very much on the table to debate.

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