Posted by Philip Banks-Welsh, Partner
Game of Drones – a song of spies and flyers
When drones are used to spy on the sets of Game of Thrones, or to disrupt airports and our holidays’, we could be forgiven for thinking that no good can come of this emerging technology. So with all the negative press coverage they have had in the last year or so, we ask are there any positive uses for drones?
We could be forgiven for thinking that drones are more trouble than they are worth, but this would be to ignore the multiple benefits that they bring to society. The positives that their use can provide in multiple applications, or where there is a risk to human life are not always given the publicity they should.
Drones can be used to spy on film sets (or to save lives)
Game of Thrones followers may have heard of the disruption caused to filming, and who can forget the recent disruption caused to airports around the world.
Drones are in fact becoming such a serious concern that The MOD has recently announced a further two million pound competition aimed at encouraging counter drone technology developers to engage in sharing expertise and intellectual property. In other words the problem is so wide spread and fast moving the military is asking for help.
But other than being used to attempt to gain exclusive spoilers or disrupt commercial flights at airports, surely there have to be some positive uses of drones?
The bad news drones on, but the positives need to rise above
As an expert in drone law I do believe that their positive uses are too numerous to mention in one place, but some of the most beneficial include, transporting donor organs quickly across urban areas, delivering buoyancy aids to people stranded at sea, locating and supporting people lost or trapped in challenging environments and identifying safety issues with buildings which could assist in avoiding disasters such as Grenfell to name but a few.
This is before we even begin to look at all the ways that the commercial use of drones can help the UK economy compete and grow. From delivering your internet shopping, to making our construction and engineering sector safer and more efficient.
In our hands
It is easy to focus on the negatives of drones, and it is unquestionably more newsworthy to do so. However, the technology has almost limitless positive applications and to ignore them distorts the picture. That is not to say that the structure to regulate and control drones doesn’t need substantial improvement, and this includes a strong focus on counter drone technology.
Whilst it might surprise some to see the MOD approaching the question of procurement, the reality is that the speed of development of the technology, and the increasingly urgent need to bring sophisticated and effective counter drone technology to bear, is posing a unique technological challenge to governments around the world, and this needs an ahead of the curve approach to ensure that we are in a position to meet this challenge.
So whether its being used to steal footage of the GOT finale or to save lives and elevate the UK economy, it’s counterproductive to blame the technology. As just like with all tools, it is the person that uses it that’s ultimately responsible.