6 Debunking Drone Facts

Discussion in 'Drone Minds Blogs' started by Astroman, Jul 18, 2015.

  1. Astroman

    Astroman Guest

    1. They were never intended to be called drones, they aren’t really 'drones' in the dictionary sense and behave nothing like drones in nature which generally only have one purpose. Alas, the use of the word drones was popularized by the media and has seeped, or flooded depending on your viewpoint, into the public phsyche to such an extent that there's no turning back.

    Technical terms for drones include UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), UAS or SUAS (unmanned aerial systems and small UAS), multirotors or even flying robots or bots, as well as ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) for boat and submarine type drones, and Rovers for ground based drones and explorers. The media used the term 'drone' because it has negative/sinister, mindless/mind of its own connotations that make evocative headlines. The wannabe experts, some of the multirotor users themselves going professional, started using it to make the devices sound more military, more hi-spec-hi-tech. Now it's come back to bite them in the backside as it's created a load of negative press.

    Still, despite efforts in official circles to avoid the word drone in official documentation it seems we are now stuck with the word. So, like many words and phrases that started out with negative connotations, we as a community will just have to Embrace the Drone, turn Drone into meaning something good. Highlight the positive uses for these new devices. After all, in nature a drone honey bee has no sting and its only purpose is nurturing the species.

    2. We don’t need laws concerning drones and privacy. Contrary to popular belief, drone operators are not interested in filming other people’s back yards and snooping in windows. The only people who might consider doing this with a drone are voyeurs and paparazzi, but we already have privacy laws that cover those. An invasion of privacy is an invasion of privacy, whether you’re peeping over your neighbour’s fence with a video camera, taking pictures of them from up a tree, using a zoom lens from a helicopter or using a little camera on a drone. We don’t need new laws for this, they already exist. Perhaps a bit of education may help though?

    If you think someone is using a drone to invade your privacy you can report them just like you would if they were up a pair of ladders peeking in your bedroom window. However, if they’re just photographing a local landmark or the general area with no intention of looking into your property or back yard there’s no point making a fuss over it. If you haven’t already, take a look at your house on Google Earth like everyone else can and see why there’s no point worrying about incidental bits of your property ending up in the corner of an image frame. No one cares about seeing your property, unless you’re famous. Taking photographs isn't against the law, and we hope it never will be. It's only when there is a deliberate attempt to invade your privacy that law breaking takes place.

    3. Drones don’t kill people. People kill people, with drones. Seriously though, the media reports drone attacks all the time, making it sound as if we have these autonomous machines up there making their own decisions about what and who to bomb and blast. Drones go on missions, flying way-points autonomously just like regular military planes, with a pilot in command at the trigger, but viewing targets on screens at a HQ miles away from the aircraft. Drone pilots that have to fire upon targets, most military drones are unarmed and used for surveillance, are not dispassionate robots who think they’re in a computer game. They take their work very seriously and suffer many of the same stresses as regular pilots.

    4. Drones are not filling the skies and causing massive amounts of near misses with passenger planes and police helicopters, despite what you might read online or in the papers. Remote controlled aircraft have been around for decades, so small flying things is not a new phenomenon that pilots are unaware of, or passenger jet manufacturers for that matter.

    The truth is that aviation authorities in America and the UK have started asking pilots and control towers etc to report all possible sightings of ‘drones’, formerly remote controlled aircraft, and that these reports, whether confirmed or not, have found their way into the news and are being reported as near misses. No toy drone can make it up to tens of thousands of feet in the air, so the only place where there is a risk of collision would be near an airport, with planes taking off or landing.

    Well, no qualified or sensible drone pilot would fly near an airport, let alone near a large jet taking off, landing or flying anywhere. So that leaves us with a few idiots, mostly older model and DIY drone pilots (newer models have safeguards against flying near airports). So let’s assume someone really is that stupid, flies in front of a landing passenger jet and actually manages to hit it. Well, these machines are pretty small, smaller than a goose and other large birds, and are made out of pretty cheap, easily breakable plastic. It is unlikely that one of these toys would cause the kind of damage one would see in a regular chicken gun test. Education is the proper response to idiots flying near airports, not media hysteria.

    5. Drones are not going to be delivering products or produce to everyone’s front doors anytime soon. The idea was started by Amazon’s Prime Air advertizing stunt back in 2013, after which may others, hundreds it seems, jumped on the bandwagon, showing simple multirotor setups delivering pizzas and various other take-away foods.

    It just isn’t going to happen, not on a mass scale anyway.

    As yet, drones are nowhere near intelligent enough to sense and avoid obstacles and find their way to your door. Plus they don’t have the endurance, both in flight capacity and weather capacity, to fulfill this task.

    However, they could soon be used within controlled environments, say within a factory or facility, and DHL’s idea to deliver post to remote islands is very much a doable task, as are parcel drops with medicine and emergency supplies where a plane would be more expensive and less accurate.

    6. Many believe the downsides of using drones in society outweigh the positive uses. Not true. What are the downsides? Privacy issues, see number 2. Terrorism in cities? Hmm, it’s possible you could put a small bomb, and it would have to be fairly small, on a drone and try and crash it and detonate it on a particular target from above. Still, you have to overcome the usual barriers of collecting the materials without being detected. Security forces catch potential threats this way all the time, we just never hear about it. The truth is you may as well just rent a small plane and throw a bomb out of the window, than figure out how to get a drone to carry the bomb and program it to crash in the right place. Even then, it is far easier for accuracy to simply plant the bomb by hand where you want it to go off, which is why most terrorist attacks are made this way. The more complicated you make something, the higher the risk of error.

    Another downside could be danger to the public directly from one crashing on someone’s head. True, this is a danger. But all qualified drone pilots are trained not to fly over people’s heads and the ones that aren’t are generally flying fairly small, lightweight machines where the risk of serious injury is very small. Most of the popular consumer drones now come with leaflets highlighting the regulations regarding flying their new device, avoiding crowds, staying below 400 feet and not flying over people etc. Also, with each year these drones are becoming safer and more sophisticated with their failsafe technology. I'd sooner worry about a full size helicopter crashing on my head than a small drone hitting me.

    The pluses include being able to create aerial photographs and film without using expensive, full size planes and helicopters, which in turn uses less energy and fuel and is better for the environment. They can be used to survey tall building and structures without sending people up there, avoiding risk to life and again being cheaper than erecting vast amounts of scaffolding. Drones have been used to aid search and rescue teams by being able to fly low to the ground in harsh environment with special cameras, and again being cheaper and not risking pilot lives. They can be used for dropping supplies and medical aid in hard to reach places, like cliff ledges where someone is trapped or mountain sides. Drones can be used to survey crops, analyzing their ability to photosynthesize effectively and highlighting patches that need more or less attention. They can also be used for near earth environmental studies to help us understand the place where we live better, without using expensive gas-guzzling aircraft or days and weeks of ground walking observations. Drones are being used to survey power lines, detecting faults and weaknesses in the system, where in the past expensive helicopters and their fuel have been used. Really, like a lot of new technologies, the uses for good are almost endless, and the perceived bad uses are the usual knee-jerk reactions. They are part of our evolving society, like mobile phones, and can be used for the greater good.

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