In a landmark move the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the UK’s aviation regulator, has given Amazon permission to start testing its much discussed drone delivery system in the UK.
Supporters have been quick to point out the advantages of Amazon’s proposed scheme; which may include quicker delivery times and benefits for more isolated rural areas. The detractors on the other hand have voiced concern about drones falling out of the sky, being hijacked by criminals and the obvious privacy concerns about drones hovering around people’s properties.
Only the results of the trial will tell which side is right, but why are waiting for the outcome of the trial from one of the world’s largest companies? Shouldn’t the Government be looking at establishing proper regulation for drones so that companies will have a set of guidelines to follow? Guidelines which will outline the privacy, security and general approved use of drones.
One of the major issues facing drones is how difficult it is to actually find out who is flying a drone and who it belongs to. To combat this there is much discussion and debate about working towards a system of registration. Registering a drone would mean that finding out who was using it during a time when there had been a complaint would be much easier, it would benefit commercial use, public authority use and private use – creating a clear legal like registering a vehicle does.
Furthermore a mandatory system of registration would make it far simpler to ensure that all drone users are properly trained and aware of their responsibilities. At present it is all too easy for individuals to purchase a drone and begin using it almost straight away with little or no knowledge of what its capabilities are. The potential for untrained users to infringe on privacy or endanger safety are all too clear.
In addition to this, drones, particularly commercial ones, should be clearly marked to show which company they belong to and what they are actually doing. This would give citizens peace of mind that the drones they may encounter are there for a legitimate purpose.
Concerns are growing about how this technology can be used; this is shown by the 2000% increase in the number of complaints the police received about drones between 2013 and 2015. It may be that some of those complaints are about users who simply don’t understand how they should be using them, but criminals are also now seeing potential in drones. In 2015 drones were used to try and smuggle items into prisons 33 times (up from just 2 the previous year).
Whilst we await the results of Amazon’s trial, we would rather the CAA had pushed towards getting proper regulation in place before giving the nod a private company to test and expand their drone use in a country where there is a clear lack of knowledge, mistrust and general confusion about drones. Work has to be done to give the UK clarity on how drones should be used before yet more of them appear in our skies.