The drone has many useful applications, from security services to maintenance to delivery, but as the unmanned aircrafts have entered the mainstream market problems have started to arise.
The drone boom has seen police in the UK being inundated with reports of altercations with drones, an investigation has revealed. Complaints include, invasion of privacy, near misses with aircrafts and prison smuggling.
In 2016, more than 3,456 incidents involving drones were recorded, compared with only 1,237 in 2015, Press Association (PA) news agency reported.
These numbers correlate to about 10 incidents per day, it said. Although this number could be significantly higher as not all police forces responded to the investigation’s Freedom of Information request.
Professor David Dunn, a politician scientist from the University of Birmingham, told the PA that drone misuse will limit privacy.
“Previously you had a hedge, you had a wall and you could do whatever you wanted in your garden without people disturbing you,” he said. “That has changed because of drones.”
Indeed, many drone-related police reports focused on drones hovering over private gardens, invading the occupants privacy.
In other cases, said police, burglars were using drones to survey a house before breaking in. It is also often reported that criminals have used drones to ship contraband, such as drugs, into prisons.
Regarding near misses with aircrafts, perhaps the most significant danger brought by increased drone use, there were 70 near misses between drones and aircrafts at UK airports in 2016, according to figures gathered by the UK Airprox Board. In 2015, there were only 29.
Ass Ch Con Steve Barry, who heads the group overseeing drones on the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said “We have to balance the growth of this technology by ensuring that the public are aware of the strong regulatory framework and detailed user guidance that is available relating to drone use”.
UK rules on drone use say the small craft must:
• Be visible to their controller at all times.
• Go no higher than 120m (400ft).
• Not be flown near airports or airfields.
• Not come within 50m (150ft) of people or property.
• Not be flown over crowds or built-up areas.