As new technologies emerge and then age they begin to fall in price and become increasingly available to the general public rather than the elite few. This seems to be the case with drone technology. It seems that anyone can go online or to a large electronics store and walk out with a shiny new drone with a HD camera attached and start flying it wherever they like.
There have been numerous reports of drones causing a general nuisance, following people home, spying on sunbathers while on public and private property (something which was actually depicted during an episode on the popular sitcom Modern Family) and there have even been reports of injuries sustained during romantic meals at restaurants on Valentines day as drones were not operated safely.
There appears to be something more sinister though. A quick Google search will show that all over the world there have been airport delays and runway closures due to the increased presence of drones and the problem has been analysed in detail by various agencies (http://dronecenter.bard.edu/analysis-3-25-faa-incidents/). There have been near misses and crashes between moving aeroplanes and drones. Is this the simple case of idiots with money to burn and no clue about official air-traffic space or could a drone in the right place at the right time flown with sinister intentions actually cause serious damage.
Airports are a no-fly zone for drones and flying one near a UK airport could lead to a 5-year imprisonment. However, they aren’t the only ones to take this perceived threat seriously (https://www.easa.europa.eu/easa-and-you/civil-drones-rpas). During the Pope’s visit to America in 2015, there was a no drone zone put in place in the places he was visiting (http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2016/04/striking-problem) and a number of cities in America are now releasing advice on how and where you can fly drones http://www.doddlenews.com/equipment/where-can-you-fly-drones-legally-in-l-a/.
Most unnerving though is that in two separate occasions in Merseyside in 2015, drones were spotted hovering over children’s outdoor play areas http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/dark-side-drone-police-reveal-uavs-being-used-theft-smuggling-spying-children-1523662. The implications of this are obviously highly sensitive, particularly since the Jimmy Saville scandal of 2012.
While there is no doubt that in the right hands the benefits of drones are innumerable and cannot be denied, and we have to admit, they are pretty cool, where will this technology take us in the future?