by Ed Kennedy
This is part II of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) article, following on from my conversation with Nicolas Pette, owner and operator of drone company Drone Under last week. Part I here: http://www.baysidecitizen.com/?p=483
As it stands the wider industry has presided over some considerable growth in a number of areas in recent months, and particularly as it relates to real estate, the environment and recreational use – all areas that may have a notable impact on the way Baysiders live, work and play. This is because the use of UAV has revolutionized -for the better – the way real estate agents are able to show off high-rise apartments, farmers ability to observe crops and land, and amongst recreational uses, provided a whole new way to film daily adventures. By contrast, the challenges surrounding the use and regulation of drones remains considerable.
One of the chief concerns going forward shall be the safe use of drones – especially by recreational users- and especially as applies to circumstances surrounding emergencies. Numerous incidents have been reported in recent months surrounding drone users letting their devices take flight while a police, fire, or ambulance emergency is underway. While CASA has issued official regulations concerning such circumstances, the difficulty in anciticipating, and then preventing such a intrusion is considerable, given the aerial nature of the devices and speed in which they can be deployed and operate.
These concerns are especially pertinent as it relates to security, as illustrated prominently with the October 2013 crash of a drone into Sydney Harbour Bridge.Though it later emerged the event was a accident – and one caused by a new user with no malicious intent – no less, it saw counter terrorism officials dispatched and an official investigation by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) launched that underscored the difficulty of regulation and logistics surrounding these new devices.
Conversely, new regulations and processes have been put in place. While in recent months the gap has narrowed between professional and amateur drone enthusiasts – as many individuals and groups have turned their recreational hobby into professional ventures – so too has the spike in drone sales seen new strategies come into place. Alongside licences already being required for professional operators, amateur drone enthusiasts are presented with a set of CASA-authorized instructions upon purchase of a drone at a retail outlet.
While this will go some way to decreasing some of the challenges surrounding amateur flight, its unclear whether it will be sufficient enough to decrease the danger of a emergency scene either being created or intruded upon – as evidenced by episodes with bushfires and Sydney Harbour bridge prior.
Overall, for business, and recreational users, drones are here to stay; and their uses are commendable. Rather, going forward, it shall be the challenge of getting the balance right between regulation and red tape that shall be the greatest issue for users and the wider community alike. In the meantime, if yet to see one of the drones in action, keep an eye out about Bayside parks. While true for a moment or two they can be a confronting site to see first time – such remains UAV’s relation newness in the commercial and hobbyist world – so too are you just as likely to see a young boy or girl manning the controls beneath the UAV.
In a community and country where ongoing debates exist about how to ‘delink’ children from technology and get them back out to play, this rise of UAV’s, in time, may come to be seen as the next incarnation of remote control race cars or laser tag toys. In this vein, while there remain a good number unique issues surrounding the industry, so too must it be clear there remain numerous benefits which this new technology has delivered.