Currently, regulation of consumer drones is extremely relaxed, with only airports and other no-fly zones restricting where UAVs cannot fly without permission. However, such a relaxed approach may prove to be one which puts the interests of all casual drone flyers at risk due to the carelessness of a select few individuals. A prime story
Currently, regulation of consumer drones is extremely relaxed, with only airports and other no-fly zones restricting where UAVs cannot fly without permission. However, such a relaxed approach may prove to be one which puts the interests of all casual drone flyers at risk due to the carelessness of a select few individuals. A prime story that comes to mind is the person who flew a DJI Phantom onto the White House lawn, albeit without any injury.
Yet, because of that incident, DJI released a software update using GPS location tracking which will prevent any of their drones from entering White House airspace. Following this argument, some believe that all consumer drones should be limited by the manufacturer to stay out of specific GPS-limited spaces such as airports and military establishments.
Why is this a good idea? Here are some points in favour of there being a GPS-based restriction for consumer drones:
- Prevent Individuals from Endangering the Hobby for Everyone: If an individual such as the one who flew onto the White House lawn were to cause some severe problems, such as endangering an aircraft while it was taxiing on the runway, the entire community of hobbyists would be severely – and negatively – affected. It is therefore in the best interest of everyone that such individuals be prevented from putting others at risk.
- Avoiding Knee-Jerk Reactions: If something catastrophic were to happen that involved personal recreational drones, there is every possibility that it could lead to a knee-jerk reaction by the authorities such as banning drones entirely until stricter guidelines are in place. It is for this reason that extra caution is required when operating a UAV.
- Safety for New Operators: The majority of crashes involving drones are due to pilot error, especially by learners. Under such circumstances, an inexperienced pilot may end up in restricted areas such as an airport and may unintentionally cause a problem for others. GPS-based restrictions would circumvent this problem.
- Protection of National Safety: Allowing consumer drones to fly unchecked may open the door to someone, posing as a hobbyist, to gain access to government establishments and then start streaming HD video directly to others. Such footage is invaluable to terrorist organizations and may put national security at risk.
So it’s our opinion that using GPS-based drone regulations is a very good idea. That said, it is a concept that is very difficult to implement since there are many flight controllers, such as KK2.1 or MultiWii, which do not have support for GPS at all. Mandating GPS may mean a huge shift in the industry and this may lead to numerous problems for those trying to build a drone on a budget. It is for this reason that drone regulation is a very difficult task and will require a lot of thought and work to implement.
Image via: Steve lodefink