Drones, Robots & AI

Drone Space : Learning to Live with Drones

Two news articles popped up onto my radar recently as I perused various sources.  At first they seemed merely interesing data points.  Upon mulling them a bit I realised these relatively innocuous articles raised more than a few valid questions, ones that concern all of us regular people going about our daily lives.

Here’s what I came up with after a little grinding of ancient gears – I am sure you can come up with others.

Are any rights attached to a property with respect to the air-column above it?  If there are rights, what are they (expectation of privacy? trespass? specified use?) and at what altitude over a property do these rights apply up to?

Given the relatively cheap proliferation of drones with good aerial capabilities, range and recording equipment, how will relevant civil authorities track and pursue those using drones to commit criminal acts? For instance, it is conceivable that such devices may be used for indecent acts such as spying through a window or observing children playing in a pool?  Just imagine the pictures the paparazzi could illegally get!  Maybe even industrial espionage?

Given most drone owners/operators are not very easily traced today, unlike the scene of car accident today, it will be orders of magnitude easier for an irresponsible party to flee the scene in the event of an accident or after causing some accidental civil damage.  What can be done about that?

Consider also :

    • What about control signal/system security requirements?  Many drones have been proved to have ineffective safeguards here too – including some military ones, I might add.
    • Drones are not too far from being made to very small sizes.  Will these things be detectable?
    • Will there be the equivalent of an air traffic system for commercial/industrial drones?
    • In the near future, civil use drones could be totally autonomous, what safeguards are needed?
    • What minimum height should drones be required to fly above to avoid basic problems like flying into a person or a truck?

I can’t say I have answers for all of these, I am just throwing open the lid of Pandora’s Box and assuming governments and the public will somehow crowdsource a practical set of answers.

One idea I had was transponders. Given current technology, a supremely logical scheme for traceability and identification is that ALL drones (commercial, hobbyist, domestic) should be required to carry a transponder.  The transponder would transmit basics like ident (much like the VIN on a car), class, owner, etc.  Of course, that would require a corresponding database of details for owner/operator allowing traceability, much like a driving licence database.

So these are just some of my thoughts, what are the ones that are uppermost in your mind?  Is it something that worries you or something that needs resolving?


It may sound like I am against drones, please note that I am not.  Like a car, they are just tools of a sort.

I tend to refer to flying drones as just “drones” because that seems the term the average man in the street tends towards.  The term “unmanned aerial vehicle”, or “UAV” for short, seems to be the professionals choice of term for such devices.


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