What is a drone?

To really understand and explore why there are issues surrounding the use of drones we must first determine the origins of use and the evolution of them.

In 2012, the BBC News released an online article which outlined the importance of drones used for military purposes, a purpose in which drones are most commonly associated with. UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) or RPAS (Remote Piloted Aerial Systems) are utilised where “manned flight is considered too risky or difficult” and they are a means in providing troops with a 24/7 “eye in the sky”. Drones can stay in the air for up to 17 hours at a time, loiter over an area and send back real-time imagery of activities on the ground. Some key uses for drones in the military include surveillance and reconnaissance, listening to mobile phone conversations, helping understand daily routines of locals to help determine what normal behaviour is and for following or attacking suspected insurgents.

This military form of “drone” has evolved into a term to include any unmanned robot (either pre-programmed or remotely controlled) and this includes any robots designed for water, land and air use (although the most common drone is an aerial one) and is no longer restricted to just military use.

Whether military or commercial though, the applications are similar in nature. As technology progresses, the types of drones available will be endless; imagine a world in which everyone rides around in self-automated and self-driven cars, or a micro-drone brings you breakfast in bed!

The variety of drones available for sale is still very limited; a few brands of commercial drones, like Parrot, are dominating the market. Depending on the capabilities of the drone, consumer drones can range from $100 to thousands and thousands of dollars.

For my project, I will go deeper into the original creation of the drone and the development from new technology with a high cost to an everyday toy which can be bought as a birthday present. This will lead into how the ease of access of what we know as a drone today has impacted and paved way for legislative and regulatory change.

Here is some aerial drone footage (not my own) of Sydney Harbour, a restricted airspace in which it is illegal to fly there without a permit.

 

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