Guest blog: DPA editor asks – Drones: are they worth the trouble?

Author : Paige West | Editor | DPA

05 February 2019

Paige West, Editor, DPA

I wrote pre-Christmas about how 2019 will be an exciting year for drone technology. Little did I know what a hot topic drones would become over the next couple of months... and not in a good way!

This guest blog first appeared as Paige’s page in the February 2019 issue of DPA and on the DPA website.

I  think  you  can  all  guess  I’m  talking  about  the report of two drones flying in and around Gatwick airport in December – and the days of  chaos that followed. More than 10,000 people faced major disruption, with several airlines halting all flights temporarily. Just three days after, a similar incident occurred at Heathrow, grounding a further 1,000 flights.

This wasn’t even the first time a UK airport had been disrupted by  drones – back  in July, there was a near-miss between a drone and an airplane at Gatwick. It was in July that new legislation was announced which banned  drones from flying over 400ft or within 1km of airports.

Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive Officer, London Gatwick, said: “...these  events obviously highlight a wider strategic challenge for aviation in this country, which we need to address together with speed – the aviation industry, Government and all the other relevant authorities. It cannot be right that drones can close a vital part of our national infrastructure in this way. This is obviously a relatively new technology and we need to think through together the right solutions to make sure it cannot happen again.”

drone vs plane

But it’s not just airports that need to beware: a drone was reported to have crashed near the White House; one 'attacked' German Chancellor, Angela Merkel; another was caught carrying drugs near the Mexican border; and one  even managed to cut off the tip of a photographer's nose! [source: https://www.techrepublic.com/article/12-drone-disasters-that-show-why-the-faa-hates-drones/]

However it’s not all bad news: drones are changing the way we see the world, the way we work and the way we interact with people. For example, the flexibility and utility of the technology will transform data collection processes, providing scientists with a new means to accurately map and survey geographical areas. Small, safe, aerial drones could read  RFID tags from tens of metres away while identifying the tags’ locations – ideal for the retail industry and probably most importantly of all, drone delivery services can provide emergency on-demand access to critical and life-saving medicines.

So the real question is, at what point does drone technology become more of a hindrance than a help?


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