There’s no doubt that last year was about rebranding drones. This six-letter word has gone from being associated with war to being associated with play, but that doesn’t mean it’s become much less controversial.
Drones, like most things in the Internet of Things, come with the good and the bad. On the upside, drones will change the way we fight fires, halve medical response time for delivery of lifesaving tools like defibrillators, and soon make sure our Amazon packages are delivered in an efficient and eco-friendly manner. But, on the other hand, there are some serious privacy issues and, without proper flight plans and interair communication, crashes with other UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) or worse will start making headlines.
Whether you’re a first-time pilot, a lifelong flier, or just wanna know what that thing is buzzing ominously over your building, we tell you what you should expect as UAVs go from hobby to mainstream.
Drone software for safety
There’s a distinct move from hardware to software. Sure, drones will continue to become more autonomous and increase their influence in the photography and videography spheres, but it’s the drone software that will turn it from a fad to an adopted tech choice.
Richard Parker, founder of Internet of Flying Things software Altitude Angel said “It’s not just about connecting devices that do fly, it’s also about providing information that are important to those things that fly.” As more drones take flight, it’s essential that each becomes more aware of other things, moving and stationary, and has a better knowledge of location—charging stations or incoming weather changes can be the difference between up and down.
Creating software like Altitude Angel is no easy feat either, particularly when a drone probably shouldn’t need to be treated with the same level of requirements as an actual airplane, but when it brings with it more challenges that the average Internet of Things. “I have to deal that the drone gets turned off, driven 300 miles and then switched on.” This means software has to be built very communicatively, for the human pilot and the drone and between drones, with an early warning system and an escape vector that updates every second. Anything slower and it can be too late.
In order to make drones as safe as possible and to get as much data for their proprietary platform’s accuracy, Parker has decided to give his software away for free, and, like much of the IoT, sell the big data.
Legislation of drones
The more they grow in popularity, the more they will be legislated. After years of paparazzi using drones, last year, California lawmakers declared that flying a drone over someone’s house is considered a violation of privacy. It’s referred to as a Hollywood bill because celebrities like Kanye West feared a photographer’s drone could crash and injure his daughter North, but irrespective of star status, this law covers all Cali residents.
The U.S. government in general is rushing to get these now millions of UAVs registered, at the risk of a $20,000 fine per unidentified flying object. And in what’s sure to be more entertaining to watch than officers handing out fines, Dutch police are training eagles to take down unregistered drones.
In Japan, while they are looking to be at the forefront in drone innovation, they are also doing it with limitations in mind, restricting how high you can fly—150 meters—and where you can fly—not around airports or above private property without consent. After what they believe could be a terrorist scare in the capital, Tokyo police are even enforcing with net-equipped drones ready to ensnare free-flying lawbreakers.
Since there is so much opportunity for drones to impact our lives positively, countries and companies will work hard to make sure drones are safer and thus more capable of delivering those benefits. And once we go from just man-operated drones to drones carrying man and the lines blur between driverless cars and helicopters, the need to plan and plot a future with drones will only grow.