Drones should have one altitude range assigned to them, where manned flight is a keepout and is only transitional for climb or descent to manned altitudes. That altitude is also, hopefully, such that they can be used for skeet practice
Hardware and in particular FPGA and CPLD (firmware) also needs a critical evaluation. I have worked on real-time and embedded control systems my entire career as a software developer. While software does deserve its share of the blame for error, bugs, etc. Hardware and firmware are just as critical. The drones will need reliable high speed communication links that must stream video in real time. Will there be a requirement for collision avoidance systems? The hardware and firmware define the constraints in which the software has to operate. If the hardware or firmware is not up to the task, then it is irrational to expect the software to take up the slack. Yet, this is often what is required. All in all, this is a bad idea on multiple fronts and is just an accident waiting to happen.
I have much more confidence in safety from private aviation because the pilot/owner is sitting in the thing. I am concerned about the drones falling out of the sky because someone forgot to fill them up, change the oil or check out that crack in the wing root.
After seeing this I have zero confidence in drones and even less in our governments concern for public safety, no that's an oxy moron huh, PUBLIC SAFETY.
The use of drones could be a hazard to the general publics safety.
A recent TV show -- one of those fictional law dramas -- had an episode in which the main character shot down a police drone that was hovering over her backyard.
If drone use does become widespread over U.S. airspace, you can bet there are people who will try to use them for skeet practice!
A good way to explore further would be to employ these drones for border surveillance, coast monitoring, wildlife park inspection etc before deploying them in urbane environment. Irrespective of when, a clear agreement on standards which govern the development of these drones needs realization soon. The very core of aviation- Air Traffic Management, also needs to be analyzed to see how they should evolve to cope up with a multitude of platforms in the sky many of which could be these unmanned drones.
In military, with UCAVs/other Unmanned flying platforms under development and an acceptance of the plausibility of them replacing manned platforms, the push for acceptance of drones is likely to pick up as technology gets proven in the battlefield subject to customization to urbane environment.
If the drone technology is perfected would we see one day individual drones to be available for purchase? Wealthy individuals will be buying them for fun, tourist explorations, spying on neighbors etc. The sky will become as full as highways today! Kris
There are rules that cover the use of radio controlled hobby aircraft. These rules have delivered acceptable safety for all. These rules should be a good baseline for drones. Some RC aircraft can be several feet long and weigh many pounds.
Drones are, in essence, flying autonomous vehicles. Pros and cons surrounding drones today might well foreshadow the debate over the development of self-driving cars. In the context of a strongly regulated aviation industry, "self-flying" drones pose a fresh challenge. How safe is it to fly drones in different environments? Should drones be required for visual line of sight – as are piloted airplanes? Join EE Times' Junko Yoshida as she moderates a panel of drone experts.