Drones be Crazy: Are they Doomed?

By Ken Briodagh August 05, 2015

Amateur avionics hobbyists are so into UAVs, or drones, that it’s almost becoming cliché to see a flock of these rotor-driven fun platforms over every public park in Brooklyn, Portland and hipster strongholds everywhere.

In less frivolous terms, these tools are being used by companies all over the world to carry cameras and environmental sensors to remote and inhospitable areas that humans are too delicate, important or lazy to observe for themselves, making drones an important developing sector of the IoT.

But most of the news about these tools is a bit … unsettling, to say the least. Leaving aside military-grade, weaponized UAVs, which have been in use for years, Drones are having a bit of hard time in terms of p.r., thanks to a few local jackwagons.

In Ohio on July 29, unknown folks sent a drone hovering over the prison recreation yard at Mansfield Correctional Institution, where it dropped a package containing 144.5 grams of tobacco, 65.4 grams of marijuana and 6.6 grams of heroin.

This did not go well.

The substances were intended for a specific inmate, but a different one snagged the goods first, sparking a brawl, which corrections officers had to break up with pepper spray. Although no staff or inmates suffered injuries according to the incident report, this story does not make the public look favorably upon drone activity.

That isn’t even the weirdest or most disturbing recent drone news. In Clinton, Connecticut, the FAA is investigating the creator of a 15 second-long YouTube video that depicted a hovering, home-made drone firing several rounds from a semi-automatic pistol, mounted on the front. It appears that there are no state laws that prohibit this kind of UAV, but it’s more than a bit worrisome to the maker’s neighbors. And also to the FAA, it seems. 

Image via Shutterstock

 “The FAA will investigate the operation of an unmanned aircraft system in a Connecticut park to determine if any Federal Aviation Regulations were violated,” the FAA said in a statement. “The FAA will also work with its law enforcement partners to determine if there were any violations of criminal statutes.”

Even if it wasn’t criminal, however, the news of the creation makes all drone initiatives look bad, which is bad for IoT developers.

Developers like Sony Mobile and ZMP, which together have formed a joint venture to develop enterprise-level UAV IoT solutions. The new company will be called Aerosense, Inc. and will incorporate Sony’s camera, sensing, telecommunications network and robotics technologies and ZMP’s automated driving and robotics technologies. Aerosense will combine these assets and work to deploy UAV solutions for measuring, surveying, observing and inspecting for enterprise customers, beginning in 2016.

The drone sector needs some good press, and soon, or consumers will never support public use of the flying devices, and the government will never allow private or corporate applications. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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