Droning on Responsibly?

Droning on Responsibly?

You're walking along the street minding your own business when bam, out of nowhere something hits you hard in the chest, winding you. You fall backward and lose your feet, landing on the sidewalk. You've been hit by something solid, then you feel wet and cold. Looking down you realize that you are saturated and there is ice on the floor, with what must have been a full one-liter take-out cup of coke. As you come back to your senses a truck drives past, with a couple of guys in the front howling with laughter, the remainder of their drive-through now covering you.

Put a couple of jerks in charge of a one-ton vehicle doing 30 mph and anything can happen. In this case, it was throwing something out of a moving vehicle which hits you hard — very hard. Imagine that was, well, a drone. Put a couple of jerks in charge of a two-pound drone doing 30 mph (the DJI Mavic Pro weighs 1.6 pounds and can do 40 mph) and, if it hits you, you are really going to know about it. And that's before you get into near misses with passenger aircraft, delivering drugs to prisons, flying over sensitive military areas and general issues around the right to privacy.   

We require people to be licensed to drive cars and, thankfully, aircraft, but not (at least non-commercially in many countries) to fly drones. This is a tricky area because drones are cheap, anyone can fly them and (perhaps the biggest problem) it's difficult to police. Even if we did criminalize it, it would affect every 12 year old who picked up a mini-drone for $9.99.

So, with this backdrop, the BBC reports on planned U.K. government legislation to increase non-commercial restrictions (proposals due Spring 2018). The Civil Aviation Authority already has the helpful DroneSafe website but wants to see:

  • Registration for pilots of drones weighing more than 250 grams.
  • Mandatory drone safety awareness testing for this group.
  • New seizure powers for police.
  • Greater commercial use, for example, parcel delivery.

I imagine we'll see a range of similar proposals appearing piecemeal in different countries. Given the explosion in the commercial and non-commercial use of drones by photographers, do these proposals go in the right direction or are we on the verge of over-regulation (and yes, I speak from experience about being hit by flying coke)?

Images used with permission of pixel2013.

Log in or register to post comments


michael buehrle's picture

all of these UK restrictions would still not stop 2 knuckleheads flying it into your chest, or delivering drugs or flying over super secret gov bases. people will just do dumb things sometimes, and sometimes bad people do them too. nothing you can do to stop it.

Anonymous's picture

Regulation is not about eliminating problems. It's about lessening occurrences and mitigating damage. There's no way to completely prevent a person who is willing and determined to cause damage from doing so. Just because there's nothing you can do to stop an extreme example of a person that's being purposefully reckless doesn't mean that you shouldn't do anything at all. The goal is to adjust the risk/reward calculation so that less people (hopefully far less) deem the reward to be worth the risk. The tricky thing is to introduce that change without being overly zealous or oppressive. It's a delicate balancing act.

This sounds a lot like the gun debate in the U.S. I'm not trying to equate the two, obviously, but there it is. In both cases, sensible laws regulating their use are in order. I think size is a good way to determine levels of regulation but I have no use for them so I don't really know. I certainly see Michael's point but not regulating them, somehow, could easily lead to some bad encounters.

So, if some people who are injured and killed are 5 and 6 year olds, is that "accepted" by "rational, semi-intelligent and non-fascist people?" I guess the answer is "yes" because, if the gun laws didn't change after the slaughter at Sandy Hook, I fear they never will. I know this article was about drones but I felt inclined to ask Bob about his posted view.

I rejected Bob's admonition because I already stated I wasn't trying to equate the two. I guess he couldn't be bothered with the details.

However, and I'll try to keep this short to avoid a protracted discussion, he's basically right. The key is "rational" regulation and, while we would probably disagree concerning what is rational, no additional gun laws, even an outright ban such as they have in other countries, would prevent these kinds of mass murders. Gun laws, like locks, are designed to keep honest people, honest. They do nothing to deter bad actors. The reasons such attacks are more prevalent in the U.S. are sociologic in nature, not based on laws.

Disagree with your first two paragraphs. The third was just a reference to my post. And I agree with your third paragraph.

Given our disparate baseline arguments, no discussion or debate would have been productive anyway. That's, obviously, not always the case, but I call 'em like I see 'em.

In this case, I don't care about anyone else's benefit. That's not always the case.

Of course Ms. Ninja may disagree but, it makes a difference because adults had a chance at life, for good or bad. Children haven't. The main reasons marriages and families fail are finances and blaming one's spouse for a lack of happiness. Children are sometimes given too much emphasis but that's rare and nothing close to being a main reason for broken marriages.

Well, we'll have to COMPLETELY disagree on this one but I admire your commitment to your wife. :-)

Anonymous's picture

If Bob starred in "Sophie's Choice", it would be a much shorter movie, lol.

"You can kill both children, I'll just produce more later."
The End

I didn't see it but understand the concept from your comment. :-)

Anonymous's picture

If you’re in the mood to get depressed, I highly recommend watching it. :)

Being Irish, my life is depressing enough. ;-)

...if you define such categories by citizenship. I don't and don't care if you do.

Anonymous's picture

Of course it was! It was a joke. :)

Michael Holst's picture

Wow... I hope your child doesn't read this or experience a situation where your feelings about him/her really hit home.

Michael Holst's picture

The where I mentioned nihilism I only said I was looking at the matter in a nihilist way meaning I was indifferent. Not that I am a nihilist. Nice try though.

I know I'd have had a hard time dealing with those words if my dad had publicly expressed such a statement. You don't have to care about your kids, that's your choice so you do you buddy.

Anonymous's picture

“It's also one of the main reasons why so many marriages and families fail, because children are wrong made the center of the family.”

Do you have any evidence to support this claim? In my (admittedly brief) research into this, according to the Pew Research Center and the CDC, marriages of families with children are 40% less likely to divorce. And recent national surveys of divorcees state that “lack of commitment” (73%) is the leading reason for divorce, not issues regarding children.


I’m interested if you based your claim on any verifiable evidence, or if it is just your personal opinion.

Anonymous's picture

I’m not following your line of reasoning here, but you’re right, this is way off topic. Hasn’t stopped you and others before on commenting, lol, but I understand if you want to stop talking about it.

I would ask you to not make unfounded assumptions of what I’m interested in, however. That’s disrespectful. I am interested in meaningful evidence, (which is why I asked for some from you) and was referring to what evidence I found available, rather than making claims that can’t be supported with any verifiable proof.

Anonymous's picture

I wasn’t necessarily looking for evidence to contradict what you said; I was referencing what evidence I had found when researching your claim-which again, I admit I am not well versed in and merely did a quick search for. I couldn’t find anything to support your argument, and was interested in how you came to your conclusions (if they were opinions based on verifiable information or not).

It’s not a disagreement per se, but if it were I would not equate a disagreement with disrespect. Mine was intended as a clarification question, and the disrespect was based on your assumption of my intentions: stating that I am “not interested in meaningful statistics and evidence”. If I weren’t I wouldn’t have asked you for yours!

I do appreciate you stating that your intentions are not to disrespect, however. I will take that to heart.

Anonymous's picture

Do you, by the way, have any verifiable evidence that one of the main reasons for failed families and marriages are due to to children being “wrong[ly] made the center of the family”?

Campbell Sinclair's picture

So drones need to be regulated but firearms dont becasue they are crucial to prevent tyranny ??? Goodness me this isn't 1770 and the British Empire isn't coming after you. What rubbish. Since when have toy drones massacred hundreds of people ? Bob your argument is ludicrous in the extreme.

Stop droning on Bob, go out and take some photographs, it sounds as though you need some fresh air.
Just one example of your unthinking monologues;
American Gun Laws are nothing to do with the UK. If one of my family was on holiday in USA and was shot by one of your crazed citizens, I would argue it WAS my right to a voice.

How about if I'm on holiday in England and get knifed by one of your crazed citizens who could have been stopped by a "bobby" but wasn't because he didn't have a gun? "Stop! Or I'll say 'stop' again!" :-)

My actual point was concerning Bob's comment that it was nothing to do with the UK.
But for what it's worth; arming citizens not law enforcement officers, there is a huge difference don't you think?

My actual point was a joke. But I would say, while there is a difference, it's not as big as you might think. The assumption is, law enforcement officers will use their guns sparingly and responsibly and, for the most part, they do. To suggest the average citizen who takes on the responsibility of gun ownership wouldn't, is unfair. Further, at times when your life and liberty are at risk, by the time an armed law enforcement officer arrives, there's nothing left to do but fill out the paperwork. Rare? Perhaps. But the statistics don't matter when it's you.

Where do you live? My wife is a huge Anglophile! :-)

I respectfully get your point (and the joke!).
There are shades to the argument so thoughts aired, will now withdraw gracefully from commenting further to you about it.
As for where I am from, born in Mile End, Stepney, London, gradually moving further away until our current place, about seventy miles from London.
Still travel in for business.
If your wife has any questions I will be happy to try and answer them.
What about you?
Where do you live?
Do you do a lot of photography?

Good! I really didn't intend to make this about guns and regret my original comment.

She's Japanese and traveled through England twice, long before we met. I'll ask her about Mile End, Stepney. Knowing so little about England, I don't even know if that's a town, a neighborhood, or ???
I live in Ohio in the U.S. and do professional photography (Industrial, architectural and executive portraiture), part time, but mostly just as a hobby. For me, it's kind of a Zen thing. It's more about taking the photo than the resulting image which is good since, being a perfectionist, I'd have given up a long time ago otherwise. :-)

More comments