I’m getting ready for when drones will dot the sky and obliterate the little sunshine we have these days. It’s a magical time to be alive, also a nightmarish one.
Just think to when the technology has been perfected so that drones can transport goods and deliver them safely to consumers. The big trucks will become fewer on our highways, highways will stop being expanded to the relief of municipal planners, for everything will be travelling in the vacant airspace between the tops of our heads and the lowest lane of current commercial air traffic (we hope!) But this will require new air traffic control rules for currently vacant space: safe flying corridors, stacking, flight plan approval, drone traffic controllers, licensing of operators, certification of equipment. Also, some new taxes could be imposed! And the birds will go extinct as they will be dodging drones and even colliding with them.
Will I have the right to request that drones don’t fly over my house and pollute me with their droning sound? What happens if a drone malfunctions and falls on my roof, or heaven’s forbid, falls on me?! Who pays? What happens if a drone is kidnapped by a Smart Technical Operator (STO) who cracks it’s code, and what happens if this STO is a terrorist? What happens if a drone is used to spy on me? Would I have to keep the windows in my house closed and the curtains drawn all the time in case a particularly pesky “fly” keeps buzzing outside threatening to come indoors through any crack? What happens if a delivery drone shows up when I am not home; would it jettison my goods in the rain on my doorstep and fly away? What happens when bad weather prevails, would these fragile aircraft be grounded, and what would that do the logistics business?
Would kids on summer break have drone wars in the park? Or go drone hunting to brag to their buddies, “Hey, I bagged two today, One was even the neighbour’s drone!” Would there be drone air shows? How big could they become before they start carrying the odd passenger and encroach on existing civil aviation?
A brave new world with a brave new set of issues to resolve. I’m sure we will get there eventually and solve this one as surely as we are going to solve driver-less cars. Talking of cars, would the early drone operatives create barriers to entry and try to milk the market by keeping drone prices high, just like the battery operated car operatives tried to do and left it a bit too late only to got run over by the electric car and the fast-approaching driver-less car?
Well, we shall wait and keep this one in perspective as it evolves.