7 Common Misconceptions About Drones

http://www.wired.com/2014/11/rural-pilots-wont-happy-faas-new-drone-rules/ Via Wired.com

As prices have dropped drastically over the past year, the market for consumer drones has really taken off. Just a few years ago drones were immense, intricate, and incredibly expensive to purchase; but today just about anybody can own a quality drone for roughly the same price as a desktop computer. However, as is the case with many emerging technologies, drones are often misunderstood because it’s hard to disassociate them from their initial application — which, in their case, primarily involved spying and dropping bombs on people. So to help you navigate this futuristic new world filled with flying robots, here are seven common misconceptions about drones.

7. Most of Them Aren’t Actually Drones

According to Vijay Kumar, an engineering professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the only thing that’s drone-like about these robots is that they make a continuous humming sound. The proper name that should be adopted is remotely piloted vehicle or RPV because, in most cases, there is still a pilot on the ground controlling the aircraft’s flight. In addition, RPV’s that utilize four rotors for lift shouldn’t be referred to as “quadcopters” since the name implies four separate aircrafts each with their own rotor — quadrotor helicopter would be a much more appropriate name for the design.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadcopter Via Wikipedia

6. They Shouldn’t Require New Laws to Prevent Invasion of Privacy

A growing concern surrounding the prevalence of RPV’s is that they will be equipped with cameras and used to spy on people. But, as Mary Cummings of the Duke University Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science will attest, it’s actually very difficult to make sense out of what a ground control person sees from a camera on board an RPV. “It is like looking through a soda straw,” she says. While the military might have the resources and trained personnel to do much more comprehensive surveillance, she believes people shouldn’t live in fear of some bumbling peeping tom’s personal RPV because a pedestrian with a smartphone would likely pose just as much a threat to personal privacy. Brendan Schulman, an attorney specializing in laws surrounding unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), asserts that we don’t need any special laws to prevent RPV’s from invading our privacy because existing laws concerning invasion of privacy and unlawful surveillance already apply to the types of concerns people are having with RPVs. An overreaching law specifically targeting drone technology is simply not needed. If someone is invading another persons privacy, it is the misconduct that should be considered unlawful, regardless of the technology used.

http://www.wired.com/2014/11/rural-pilots-wont-happy-faas-new-drone-rules/ Via Wired.com

5. They Aren’t a Danger to Other Aircraft

Pilots have been spotting model airplanes in their vicinities for years but in 2014 the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) started requiring pilots and air traffic controllers to report all drone sightings to a national security system. The problem is that many of these sightings are reported from the ground, and pertain to situations that don’t pose any real risk. Since the vast majority of consumer RPV’s lack the specifications to fly thousands of feet in the air, it’s unlikely that they would even come in contact with passenger aircrafts, let alone cause a crash. The newer, higher flying models, are even less of a threat to air traffic since they’re equipped with geofencing that automatically engages a GPS system to avoid getting too close to airports.

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Unmanned-Drones-Fly-Dangerously-Close-Airplanes-Kennedy-Airport-283247661.html Via nbcnewyork.com

4. You Can’t Hear Them From Miles Away

Since the emergence of UAVs RPVs, a number of companies have appeared that claim they can detect suspicious drone activity based on the distinct sound or acoustic signature they generate. But these companies might soon run into challenges because reducing noise levels is one of the main goals involved in designing new aircraft. For instance, in the UK, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds uses a small RPV with six electric motors to monitor endangered species of birds. According to them, the surrounding ambient noise, such as wind, insects and other birds, is enough to drown out the sound of the motors so the aircraft can get very close to subjects without being noticed.

http://globalnews.ca/news/1548816/drone-used-to-help-find-family-lost-in-the-woods/ Via globalnews.ca

3. They Don’t Always Require a Human Controller

Autonomous UAVs are really the only aircrafts that should be referred to as drones. The technology was once only used for expensive government and military purposes, but now, as it has come down in price and been made more available, it’s being implemented in other areas. Hugh Liu is a professor at the University of Toronto’s Institute for Aerospace Studies. Recently, he won a $1.65 million grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to train 150 new experts in using UAVs for a range of tasks such as agricultural and environmental monitoring. There are also crowd funded projects; Sprite is a sturdy, programmable UAV you can throw in your hiking pack and break out whenever you want to do some mid-expedition aerial filming.

http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/israeli-manufacturers-win-150m-turkish-uav-contract-updated-0389/ Via defenseindustrydaily.com

2. Signal Jamming Won’t Take Them Down

Another prevailing myth about drones is that they can be stopped by jamming their communications signal. However, what many people don’t know is that almost all GPS-guided drones have a built-in failsafe that guards against this type of situation. It’s called “lost link protocol” and it ensures that a jammed drone will automatically guide itself back to a safe, predetermined location that the hacker can’t change. It’s important to note that this failsafe doesn’t necessarily mean that all drones are immune to hacking, just that they’re protected from signal jamming.

http://droningskies.com/good-news-drone-radio-frequency-jammers-are-against-the-law/ Via droningskies.com

1. They Won’t Be Making Home Deliveries Anytime Soon

Although Amazon submitted a drone patent in 2014, there are still many technical and regulatory hurdles the company will need to overcome before they can turn their dreams of a drone delivery system into reality. For example, they still need to convince the FAA to approve widespread commercial use of drones. Also, current delivery drone models can’t travel very far and operate poorly in bad weather conditions. Sure, with the right engineering we might see them in the future, but it’s more likely we’ll see them first used for humanitarian efforts such as delivering food and medical supplies to hard-to-reach disaster areas.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/01/amazon-prime-air-delivery-drones_n_4369685.html Via huffingtonpost.com
Wes Walcott

Wes Walcott

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