This post is part of the A to Z Challenge, in which each day of April a post is made inspired by a letter of the alphabet. Each post will be related to the research done on upcoming trends for the near-future techothriller series Shadow Decade.
“Drone” is the colloquial term used by the general public for UAVs, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, much to the dismay of professionals in the field of aviation. While there are many ‘toy’ civilian models employed, today we’re going to talk about their use and potential application in war, law enforcement, and espionage.
In 2012 the FAA Reauthorization act was heavily pushed by defense companies to expand the use of drones, making it easier for government agencies and commercial entities to use them in the US airspace.
For the most part they’ve been employed for border surveillance, but also in disaster relief efforts.
The most advanced UAVs are equipped with infrared, radar, heat sensors, and cameras capable of scanning entire cities or reading a license plate from ten miles away. Others can intercept texts and phone calls, and are used to monitor protests.
By 2020 the number of drones in US airspace will have increased to over 30,000. Privacy advocates have increasingly expressed concern over their use.
Beyond military and law enforcement uses, drones have been employed to monitor crops and utility lines, and see increasing use in aerial filmmaking.
Given the security and ethical concerns that drones represent, the FAA has been scrambling to come up with regulations to cover the use and misuse of UAVs.