I knew there were better applications for drones than just delivering tacos. If drones had parents I’m sure they’d be disappointed to know that their child was in the food industry instead of living up to its full potential. There’s plenty of room for these unmanned aircraft to be used for remote sensing, surveillance, transport and so on but strict legislation has limited the expansion of such functions. Hoping to get around such stringent laws set by the FAA is the Department of Homeland Security, who believe drones could play a very big role in assisting law enforcement with a number of things including operational support, special event response, crime scene situational awareness, border security etc. Your initial thought may be to question why there is such resistance in drone use if there are so many obvious benefits.
Well apparently some people like to have this thing called privacy. The same drone capable of carrying gigapixel cameras, infrared and thermal imaging cameras, automated license plate readers and, soon, facial recognition can be easily abused. With such a high level of technology and the fact that by law the public can’t find out who is operating the drones it is natural for the public to fear getting spied on. It is up to the people to decide if its worth giving up a little privacy for a gadget that can save lives, fly where it is unsafe for police to go and detect fires/wildfires, and help with disaster evaluation and initial response. For now the DHS has won a small victory in getting permission for police to fly small drones (able to fit in the trunk of a squad car) to heights of up to 400 feet for training purposes only. It may not be much, but its the first step towards a better protected future.