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Mapping the Air for Drones

By Carl Ford February 18, 2015

In the end drone regulation is like spectrum regulation, full of arbitrary dividing lines for use cases and sold off elevations.

In our planning meetings about the next IoT Evolution EXPO happening in Las Vegas August 17-20, the discussion of drones is a place where everyone has a part of the envelope.

Toy drones get discussed, aerial photography gets discussed, distribution systems like Amazon has talked about get discussed and the guy who travelled using a Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles comes to mind as an oxymoron.  

It seems to be a universal topic that sounds like we will all own one like a TV.

However, that also suggests that we are going to give the FAA some headaches.

Toys and aerial photography maybe get to be like short wave and wi-fi.  In a noman’s land where everyone is allowed to play.

RIght now they are indicating a fast lane strategy where drones can fly 500 ft up and go 100 miles per hour. At speeds like that the indication is we are going to have air roads.

While we all love to join Christoper “Doc” Lloyd in saying “Roads? Who needs roads!”  The reality is that we are probably going to have guidelines. The “guide - lines” will work somewhat like the way the FAA keeps commercial planes flying the same routes.  

Now with the understanding that the shovel and pick store was probably the richest venture during the gold rush, with the lawyers by the claims office being a close second, the biggest opportunity I can think of is surveying and map making.

While, I started this article with the view that air roads were going to follow highways,  I started to think about the way my GPS system keeps wanting to guide me to my home by the “shortest” route.  Often I end up in neighborhoods near my home, that made no sense to me, since it did not account for local stop signs and other residential traffic.

I can envision a “air” grab of right of ways for drone lanes that will be filled with contentions like cell towers. ”Everyone wants the coverage but don’t want the tower by their house,”  or noise pollution. The word drone, maybe based on the sound they make constantly.  “The highway sound barrier has helped my neighborhood, but does anyone have an idea, how to make a sound barrier in the air?”

Most importantly,  the government already has a pretty strong understanding of how they use drones, and their technology is heading towards it 3rd generation. Like the investment by Mark Zuckerberg in Titan Aerospace, the government has learned to hover for great periods of time. Suggesting that Arthur C. Clark’s rationale for Satellites can now be applied in our atmosphere.  This makes for restrictions and no fly zones for government purposes.

The implication is that we have a lot more up in the air, while the regulation is still up in the air.  


Edited by Maurice Nagle

Partner, Crossfire Media

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