Drones in the Home?

Closer than ever before
Rahman Mohamed

The word drone is not new to many.  It has multiple definitions.  It can be the lazy male bee or ant whose only job is mating with the queen, someone who’s lazy, or someone who just keeps talking, and talking, and talking, about the same subject and never seems to end (Don’t worry, this post is about a different Drone).  The most common definition used today: Drone; the wireless computer that can fly.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, everyone was dying to have the remote control toy.  There it was, less than a decade ago in the 20th century: the car and plane that was as big as a book but moved on its own and could be controlled by anyone (little training needed).  Today it’s evolved.

Although the future was predicted, the Drone was unforeseen.  Today the Drone, defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as “an unmanned aircraft guided by remote control or onboard computers” is primarily used for military operations.  According to the Washington Post, on 2 May 2011 there was a raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan; he was killed, his body was covered, prayers were recited and the body was dropped in the sea.  After 10 years of search Bin Laden was found, but it wasn’t phone-tapping or undercover agents that identified him: it was the Drone.

On 17 May 2011 the Washington Post reported that the CIA had been using Drones, the RQ-170, to find and monitor Bin Laden’s compound.  By using “unmanned planes designed to evade radar detection and operate at high altitude” they were able to gather pictures and videos that satellites couldn’t.  They were also used on the night of the raid.

Today the Drone is widely used.  7 September 2015 The Washington Post reported the Pakistani Military stated Drones were used to kill 3 suspected militants.  On the same day the Toronto Star reported that David Cameron said UK Drone strikes in Syria had killed three Islamic State fighters.  Two days later, 9 September, The Telegraph reported Drones that could fly non-stop for 90 days had been built for the UK military.  Drones aren’t just used by the military.

12 September the Globe and Mail reported that Drones are being designed to help find missing persons and detect gas leaks.  The Seekloc (Seek and Localize) is a drone designed to enter areas before humans, detect leaks and begin working on fixing problems before trained technicians (aka humans) arrive to help save time.

Killer WhalesHollywood is also getting into the fight for the best Drones.  10 September Maclean’s reported that Drones are being used to shoot scenes at new angles, take the place of helicopters and cranes, and playing a greater role in stunt photography.  The Drone’s photography skills have also been playing a role in aquatic research, the National Post reporting on 11 September that pictures of baby orcas (killer whales) were taken.

The greatest battle: the household Drone.

Drone 1Today on Amazon a drone can be purchased from less than $100 to over $3000.  Equipped with cameras they can fly high and get pictures of valleys, mountains and windows.  With the peeping Drones, the challenge, how to control the Drone?

16 August 2015 CTV reported that Canadian Drone regulations may be too permissive.  With growing popularity and a lack of enforcement there has been

rise in incidents involving recreational drones interfering with planes and helicopters has some calling for Transport Canada to sanction unlawful recreational drone users

Drone 2Although there are regulations from Transport Canada including staying nine kilometres from an airport, always keeping their craft within sight and flying under 90 metres, Drones under 35 kilograms do not require a permit or licence.  Commercial Drones or Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV) follow different regulations.

However, there is a growing call and movement to increase regulations and enforcement across Canada. On 25 August 2014 CBC reported that “an Ottawa resident complained to his city councillor about a drone buzzing around his neighbourhood”.  Later, on 7 September CTV reported that a mother on Vancouver Island reported a Drone appearing outside her pent-house suite many times.  The RCMP conducted an investigation but couldn’t find the Drone.  According to Transport Canada the Drone doesn’t need a permit to fly but must “respect the Criminal Code of Canada related to trespassing and privacy.”  As the popularity of the Drone climbs so do the complaints.

On 25 August Ciara Bracken-Roche, a PhD candidate at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario and member of its Surveillance Studies Centre told CBC that “Right now in Canada we don’t have any laws that regulate recreational drones, specifically, especially in terms of privacy.”

The Drone has a good side too.  Drones are sold on Amazon; on 8 May BBC reported that Amazon is thinking about using Drones for delivery.  Earlier, on 30 March CTV reported that Amazon was actually testing Drone Delivery in rural BC.  The location was not revealed.  They might deliver their own Drones with a Drone!

Earlier this year, on 31 March 2015, the Toronto Metro reported that Toronto City Councillor James Pasternak wants to discuss Drone regulations.  He said “We’ve got to be very careful that this equipment is not used by criminal elements to scope and stake out various sensitive sites and locations for potential robbery or terrorist action. We need the levers of power in our bylaws to make sure we can stop that.”  This may include creating restricted Drone-fly-zones, Drone Licenses and criminal background checks before receiving a Drone license,.

Across Canada you can’t drive an automobile without a “Driver’s License “.  The question now, will it become a “Ground Automobile License” with a “Small Aircraft License” or dual “Ground-Aircraft Driver’s License”?