The development and use of UAS's is still at the beginning. Rules will develop around this new technology, but most likely lawmakers will be too slow to keep up with the development.
Real estate was and is one of the first industries to (try) and welcome aerial photography with open arms, though there is insecurity on what is legal and what is not.
Just like with any other innovation, there is a lot of fear that goes along with it - my husband who owns a "drone company" - tries to shed some light onto the subject, after there had been a post in our neighborhood FB page:
(oh, and please ask your questions in the comments, if you have any - I will have him look and answer)
"From my Neighborhood Watch via email: “Everyone, watch out for drones filming houses…this is an invasion of privacy. After a drone was filming a golf course and a neighboring home by two males, two homes were burglarized. Call the police if you see a drone flying around.”
I’m sure the police get these calls around town so perhaps a good time put some context to a drone siting and how NOT to treat it like a shark sighting. Sharks actually DO present a credible threat!
If you’ve ever watched a reputable documentary on sharks you come away with two rather-settling conclusions; first is that a shark is an amazingly-adapted machine, efficient, and almost single-minded in purpose that wants to swim. Second is that shark encounters with people are about as personal as changes in the weather. Most often we look like food to them only to be “Not Food,” to put it in shark-speak. Nothing personal.
Drones…and henceforth we’ll call them more appropriately, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)…have unfortunately earned a similar reputation to sharks as I read through a number of comments posted on a social media site when one was spotted over our neighborhood. Since we don’t have the equivalent of Discovery Channel’s “Shark-Week” to educate the public (maybe that’s a good thing, eh, Sharkageddon?) I’ll try and provide some context to what you are seeing in the sky.
So why DO we see them in neighborhoods? Because 1) Colorado doesn’t have a testing site (yet) and 2) UAS-drivers love to fly and test and fly again. As an Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) designer, builder, flyer and occasional crasher, I have this intense desire to see these systems performing all kinds of amazing aerial feats that can one day turn into a capability that serves our needs whether its delivering medical supplies to remote locations or capturing imagery to support disaster recovery efforts. For that you have to fly to test and you have to fly outdoors at some point. The idea of a test facility is a novel concept and there are a few around the country…but not where I live…nor even close.
The fact that a UAS even flies at all is the result of an evolution of sorts, with countless hours of development, trial and error, testing, and the systems continue to evolve as “good ideas” seem to drop from the skies (sorry, bad pun.) The point is to have an appreciation for the science, skill, and ambition that the UAS represents by the people behind it, and not a cold-hearted, robotic, unthinking machine out to get you. Which gets me to my next point, that tethered to a UAS is a person…always.
Most UASs (for discussion I’ll refer to multicopters) are inherently unstable and cannot fly without technology balancing all of the forces required for flight. But they still require a person to “fly” it, which is to say, tell it what to do. Every aspect of its flight happens as a result of input from the “UAS-driver”, keenly aware of what is going on with his craft.
So lets review what allows them to fly over your neighborhood…Federal Aviation Advisory (FAA) Advisory Circular 91-57, that’s what! You might own the land but the FAA controls the airspace and the FAA provides nominal guidance at the moment. New, more UAS-specific guidance is currently in review, but not expected until September 2015 at the earliest so in the meantime, amateur UAS-drivers can continue to blaze the skies (under 400 feet as per AC 91-57…which isn’t true either…technically they can fly up to 1200 feet in Class-G (formerly known as Uncontrolled) Airspace.)
I think the real issue here is the camera (that may or may not be mounted…I rarely fly with one unless on a mission). Generally speaking, flying a UAS with a camera and imaging private property, people and activities whether on public OR private land is NOT, by law, an invasion of privacy (Good article on UAS photography in Seattle), although you may have grounds for legal actions if the UAS is able to photograph you in a place generally accepted as private (inside your house, for example). Otherwise, your house and your property can all be recorded from public vantage points (satellites have already done from space…Google likely did it from the road) and even you can be recorded when you are in a public place (on a sidewalk) or in your backyard which is not generally considered a private location).
While an overhead UAS taking pictures may seem “personal” and invasive (albeit creepy and rude), it’s more like a shark mistaking a wet suited surfer as a seal than a villainous shark out to shut down your beach vacation with a nip to a surfer. Odds are the UAS-driver will never even review the imagery and if they do, today’s cameras, while impressive at some things like stopping fast-moving sports, are terrible for intelligence collection.
The comments I was reading about our local event (the UAS in the neighborhood…which wasn’t mine since it’s in pieces in the lab from a recent crash…sigh) had folks correlating the UAS flyover with recent burglaries and for people to “be on the lookout”, warning them to report when they see
a UAS. This stirs negative perceptions and plays to fears of a surveillance-effort behind the sighting (perhaps it’s hubris that makes us think our property and activities are worthy of another’s interest?) that ultimately creates bad policy and laws that impair progress towards allowing the UASs to serve society. We need to temper our initial fear
with a more complete understanding and appreciation for what it takes to allow developers keep innovating (and UASs from lawn-darting).
Or…maybe…we are at the beginning of Drone-ageddon? It will make great TV."
Originally Posted: http://spectraboticsblog.spectrabotics.com/why-a-drone-is-not-like-a-shark-in-your-neighborhood/