That Drone You See May Not Be The Government’s

While the recent surveillance disclosures have pushed this issue off the front pages, the government use of drones has received extra scrutiny of late.  Most of this has been about the use of drones domestically to implement the will of the state.  However, the government is not the only party capable of flying some unmanned autonomous vehicles (UAV).

DIYDrones, arguably the first major community of do-it-yourself drone enthusiasts, has been around since 2007.  While that community is still mostly about experimentation, the proliferation of the military versions of the drone could easily draw some unwanted (and perhaps unnecessary) attention on these folks working out of their backyards or in research labs.  Since many of these drones are quite small and/or cheap, it seems plausible to me that someone may find one of these paper airplane sized devices, jump to the wrong conclusion, and foreclose an area of innovation for many thousand committed individuals.

Absent an incident, the next likely time for some public scrutiny should be in 2015, when the Federal Aviation Administration will allow commercial use of drones.  While a public awareness campaign may be helpful, it will need to go beyond the point that not all drones are used to kill to cover all the positive benefits these vehicles could bring.