Drones are an incredible technological advancement that has its roots as far back as World War I. Though many people attribute this technology to recent decades, drones’ evolution has been underway for quite a while, only seeing a boom in expansion over the last few years. As concerns over drone attacks grow, optimism for positive applications rises in commonality. The potential applications of this technology are endless, and we have only scratched the surface of what UAVs are capable of, both autonomously and with manual control.
Inspired by Doron Goldberg’s speech at the Blackhat Conference - "The history of drone attacks - a rising threat" and my two boys at home building drones, I became interested in drone technology’s positive applications.
Positive Applications and Potential Drawbacks of Drone Security
Drones are a double-edged sword when it comes to security.
They can offer incredible advantages to security efforts, helping with:
- Risk assessments: Security personnel can use drones to identify gaps and vulnerabilities that would otherwise not be detected (or be detected with extreme difficulty). The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) can reach locations that would otherwise be inaccessible.
- Perimeter control and other responsibilities for security officers: Drones are currently used for monitoring the safety and security of areas such as prisons, college campuses, and other venues that host large gatherings of people. Thermal imaging cameras can be used with drone technology as well, enabling security officers to view these areas at night with the same level of clarity, if not more.
Not all security applications of drones are positive, however. This technology can be used to thwart protection efforts as well. For example, you may be at risk of losing crucial data if your drone is hacked. This has become a significant issue in drone security, as evidenced by a leading drone manufacturer. The company is suspected of having been sending sensitive data from its drones in the USA to China, giving the country access to information it would not otherwise be able to uncover.
And again, not all hacking is bad. There are many reasons you wouldn't allow drones in specific areas, and there are hundreds of companies working on products to disable drones. Here is a great example below:
Although drones seem to be unique to this day in age, their existence dates back as far as World War I when the United States and France were working on the development of aircraft that could fly automatically, unmanned. However, they are increasingly attributed to current times since the technological expansion has boomed in the last few years.
Drones are currently used for all sorts of applications, personal, commercial, and military use.
Drone technology is becoming even safer and more dependable as it evolves and applies to all sorts of industries, including:
- Disaster mitigation and relief
- Filmmaking and photography
- Law enforcement
- Real estate
The applications for drone technology are endless, and current technological advancements have made it abundantly clear that the future is now.
No matter the industry, however, all drones will be held to the same legislation during use.
EU Restrictions on Drone Use
Drone restrictions are different in every country and sometimes even in every state, so before flying or even traveling with drones, check the local regulations. One useful tool is the European drone legislation map, which is aimed to show all local rules within the EU.
The truth is we are still working on regulating the use of drones. Most of the graphics I found on the website of the European Union Aviation Agency had a disclaimer - "This document is a working document and is provided for information only." We are a year away from the moment we would have a clear idea about the law in Europe, and then every country would need to create and apply their own rules until 2023. The legislation is critical to the rapid expansion of the drone industry for both commercial and recreational applications. The goal is to have simple procedures. Next video is an example of rules for C1 drone, which is up to 900 grams, needs electronic ID, and to be registered:
All drones under 250 grams are considered toys (for now). They are privately built or belong to the C0 category. The restrictions for those drones are minimal - you can not fly it near airports, no need to register it, or have a license.
Here you can see the general rules (note that the document is not final) which applies to flying your drone in the EU depending on its class.
US Restrictions on Drone Use
On the other side of the ocean, in the USA the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published amendments to the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. Consequentially, there have been many long-awaited features incorporated into the New US Drone Law 2020.
The new law, particularly regarding the “Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles,” released by the FAA in conjunction with the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST), addresses the following:
- Drones can be operated below 400ft (122 m) in uncontrolled airspace without the need for specific authorization. However, the operator must have a drone pilot license.
- Recreational flyers must register their drones.
- Drone operators must avoid other aircraft at all times and otherwise comply with FAA airspace prohibitions.
- Drones should not be flown over public events or groups of people or near emergencies such as accidents or law enforcement operations.
Again if your drone weight is less than 250 grams you have nothing to worry about.
Here is a short video explaining the rules for recreational flyers in the USA:
The future of drone technology is here. UAVs have been shown to improve efforts for security, delivery, asset management, and more across industries of all kinds. As we await further development, let us enjoy what we have in our hands now.