The rise of the drone: What’s to come in the next year

Lauren Savana, Centurion Staff

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are suspected to change the delivery business forever with delivering packages in as little as half an hour.
UAVs, formally known as drones, are sweeping through the world for commercial, military and governmental use, and are expected to be regulated in the U.S. by the end of 2016.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos appeared on 60 Minutes, explaining that a drone could deliver a package to your doorstep as little as 30 minutes after ordering online.
Author John W.R. Taylor explains the history of drones in detail in his book “Jane’s Pocket Book of Remotely Piloted Vehicles.” Taylor reported that the first drone was created and tested in the early 1900s to provide target practice for training military personnel.
As time progressed, so did the technology. During WWI, the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane was created by the U.S to be used as a flying bomb, with no pilot, capable of flying explosives to its target, Taylor explains.
It wasn’t until the Vietnam War era that drones evolved to more than a remote- controlled airplane.
William Wagner’s book “Lightning Bugs and other Reconnaissance Drones; the can-do story of Ryan’s unmanned spy planes” discusses the use and history of drones in the U.S Air force. Wagner reports that the U.S Air force began using drones out of fear of U.S pilots being shot down by enemies and explains that there are ultimately five different uses for them.
Wagner lists the first use, target and decoy, is used for aerial gunnery as a target that simulates an enemy aircraft. The second use is for reconnaissance, providing battlefield intelligence. The third, for combat, providing unmanned combat in high-risk situations. The fourth, for logistics, designed for cargo and logistics operations. The fifth use is for research and development and civil uses, also known as commercial UAV’s.
The two major uses that are on the rise are the commercial use by civilians and surveillance use by police forces.
Ben Gielow, a spokesperson for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle System International says, “There are endless positive uses for these mechanical robots daring to go places no human wants to go: inspecting pipelines, search and rescue operations, fire and large-accident investigation, even bringing medical supplies to unreachable areas.”
An article written in the Washington Post by Brian Fung, titled “Why drone makers have declared war on the word ‘drone’” focuses on the fact that the term “drone” conjures a negative or scary image of an aircraft creeping through the sky. The term UAV sounds less hostile.
However, what civilians are using drones for isn’t scary at all. “Blockbusters are growing increasingly reliant on acrobatic aerial footage that only drones can capture safely and cheaply,” says Fung.
There are drone fan pages, such as Drone Lovers, which is an open forum for civilians to blog about what certain models they use and rave about the latest updates and even talk about ideas for uses of drones, like delivering pizza’s straight to their door.
So it seems that major corporations and regular people are learning to use drones for helpful and innovative ways to keep progressing in this hyper connected world.
By the end of the 2016, the U.S is planning on regulating commercial use of drones to make things like Amazon deliveries possible. The only real change is that when a civilian wants to purchase a UAV, they will be required to gain a permit for their drone through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Now, the more controversial issue is the use of drones in local police forces. The concept in the “1984” novel by George Orwell comes to mind when thinking about these tiny planes monitoring crowds, pulling you over when you’re speeding, checking your blood alcohol levels, or even making arrests.
Harley Geirger, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) is a drone expert. He discusses the capability these certain drones have on the CDT website: “Drones can be outfitted with facial recognition cameras, license plate scanners, thermal imaging cameras, wifi sniffers and other sensors,” Geirger said.
Geirger explained that if these drones have cameras attached there uses are endless, such as border patrol, hunting down suspects, and even monitoring “anti social” driving.
Since 2011, police have been required to apply for a permit through the FAA. The FAA released a list of which police forces in the U.S that have applied for the use of drones, there are over 100 forces that applied,81 of which are using drones.
The New York Post in 2014 interviewed one of the Texas police departments that are currently using drones; one of the officers went as far as saying “It might be a good idea to equip its $300,000 Shadowhawk drone with Tasers, tear gas and rubber bullets.”
U.S. News & World Report wrote an article about the first American to be arrested by a drone in North Dakota. The man Rodney Brossart stole six cows from the farm next to his own and would not return the cows. Brossart was armed and resisted arrest from police officers which led to a 16-hour standoff. Officers had to call in a predator drone to assist in the arrest.
When asking students at Bucks what they think about the use of drones in police forces or even for civilian use, responses were similar.
Rebecca Betts, 19, a chemistry major, said, “In such a progressive age, I never was even aware that this kind of technology existed. It is scary to think about what could happen if they got into the wrong hands.”
Le Sean Combs, 20, history major, says. “There are definitely positives, like if it is unsafe for a police officer to go and arrest someone, just send in a drone. But think about if a police drone is flying over someone’s backyard and sees them growing marijuana and they go and arrest them; it’s a total breach of privacy.”
“The Supreme Court also held that individuals on their own property have no expectation of privacy from police observation from public airspace, meaning that police do not presently need a warrant to peer into a fenced-in backyard with a drone.” Says Geirger.
What’s important is the FAA is starting to create new guidelines for the use of drones in law enforcement. Currently the FAA is silent on issues such as privacy and transparency standards.
Geirger says, within the next year the FAA will be coming out with new, more detailed, requirements for the forces that are striving to keep an eye in the sky of America.
As this technology progresses, with or without the approval of the American people, what’s important to keep in mind is the Fourth Amendment, which protects each individual in this country from unreasonable search and seizure.
Though there are potentially positive uses for drones, there are equally negative outcomes from the use of these unmanned aerial vehicles. As a society, we must tread lightly.