Just imagine a world where drones are commonly being used and can regularly be seen flying in the skies. What do you think of them?
A few weeks ago, while I was taking a walk, a drone measuring approximately one meter in diameter passed over my head and I immediately wondered: what would happen if it fell? Immediately, in fact, I remembered the case of the Austrian skier Manfred Hirsher who last December, during the slalom of the Madonna di Campiglio skiing World Cup narrowly missed a flying drone (which is not actually allowed!) which was in free fall.
Somewhat similar to driverless cars, the market for drones could also be an indicator of probable huge advances that are being made in technology. Drones are now on the scene and we will continue to use them but my impression is that there is still much to be done, much more than that perceived by the common imagination. What I fear, in fact, is that technological developments in this field are moving much too fast in relation to the relevant regulatory procedure. And that is somewhat at odds with the related global turnover that – it is estimated – could even reach $ 8.1 billion in 2018. A figure expected to rise even further as soon as, once and for all, the regulatory matter is defined and as soon as certain technical issues are resolved such as weight, battery life, reliability of position detection sensors, and so on.
Use in the military field – an area from which, however, drones were conceived – worries me considerably as on the other side of the coin we are talking about machines with destructive power. As such, weapons to all effects that are effective and relatively low cost and so it is normal that these aspects should be taken into account. But what concerns me is that in any case it involves high technology in the hands of everyone, even those of terrorists who could even plan their attacks using these technologies, just to give one example.
Use in the civil field however, interests me, although the road ahead is still long, especially from a safety point of view which, in my opinion, cannot be overlooked. I’m thinking of a use in agriculture, surveillance, security, civil protection and so on. Then there is also the taking of photos and videos, a context in which we would have to address another important issue: that of privacy.
The most discussed concrete case is that of deliveries via Amazon Prime drones, being tested in Canada and Britain, but not yet in the U.S. due to halting by the FAA (Federal Aviation Authority) as a result of an issue related to safety and environmental impact. The same FAA some months ago imposed the obligation of registration of such equipment exceeding 250 grams, where failing to do so could result in a $ 27,500 fine and soon an ad hoc law for the professional use of drones in critical areas such as cities and airports, among others, will be introduced.
Meanwhile, in China there is another e-commerce giant – JD – that since the end of last year has been using its drones for a market test in Jiangsu province in order to reach an important segment of customers that live in rural areas.