The use of Drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), has been on the rise since they were first used for observation and target shooting during military flights. According to Wagner 25, the first known use of UAVs occurred in August 1849 when Austria invaded Venice with explosives placed on unmanned balloons. This aerial vehicle can either run independently or can be remotely operated by a human operator. In addition, they do not carry human pilots, they can transport either deadly or non-lethal items, and they can be either recoverable or expendable. Vehicle lift includes aerodynamic forces (Valavanis 16). For a UAV to operate efficiently, it needs ground control stations, data links, among other support equipment. Drones can be classified according to either altitude/range or their functions. Regarding the altitude, UAVs can be Hand-held (600 m altitude with a range of 2km), NATO (3000m altitude with up to 50km range), among others (Wagner 23).
The classification of UAVs according to their functions synchronizes with the various applications of drones. The onset of the twenty-first century witnessed massive technological innovations which in turn expanded the role of UAVs. Drones fall into six functional categories namely; reconnaissance, target and decoy, combat, research and development, and civil and commercial purpose (Wagner 52). Numerous applications are underlying the six categories. For instance, UAVs employ remote sensing when conducting surveys and mapping. They are also used in military operations, delivering cargo, and the industrial inspection, maintenance, and repair of oil platforms. Drones are also applied to crop, soil and irrigation monitoring. Other drone applications fields include structural analysis, first response to crisis, aerial imaging, flight control theory research and flight dynamics.
Several ethical issues have emerged with the use of drone technology. Military drones, for instance, are used for purposes such as surveillance, reconnaissance, remote sensing, target monitoring, and eliminations. In the process, drone technology eliminates enemies. However, the use of UAVs creates collateral damage. According to Wilson (62), people are not only misidentified by military drone targets, but there are also non-military casualties and deaths. Another ethical issue that has emerged is the invasion of people’s privacy. Picture a scenario where a drone owner flies his UAV to a park to take photographs for artistic purpose or as a hobby. However, in the process, he inadvertently takes a picture of a person in the park. In this case, the drone owner’s pursuit of a hobby directly violates the other person’s right to privacy.
These ethical issues and other disadvantages associated with the use of UAVs has necessitated the establishment of regulations to be fulfilled for one to own and fly a drone. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, anyone wishing to fly a drone should enroll to an initial aeronautical knowledge test at one of the FAA-approved testing centers and pass the minimum mark (Farber 46). After the test, the interested persons should be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration. However, one must be at least 13 years old to access the FAA registration portal. Additionally, any drone-owner to be should acquire a Remote Pilot Certificate with a small Unmanned Aircraft Systems(UAS) rating and should pass a recurrent aeronautical test every two years. Moreover, each registrant should receive a certificate of aircraft registration renewable every three years at the cost of $5. The above requirements should be strictly reinforced to ensure that drones serve their various purposes at the highest level of safety (Clarke 85).
Clarke, Roger, and Lyria Bennett Moses. “The regulation of civilian drones’ impacts on public safety.” Computer Law & Security Review 30.3 (2014): 263-285.
Farber, Hillary B. “Eyes in the sky: constitutional and regulatory approaches to domestic drone deployment.” (2014).
Valavanis, Kimon P., and George J. Vachtsevanos. Handbook of unmanned aerial vehicles. Springer Publishing Company, Incorporated, 2014.
Wagner, Markus. “Unmanned aerial vehicles.” (2015).
Wilson, Richard L. “Ethical issues with use of drone aircraft.” Proceedings of the IEEE 2014 International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science, and Technology. IEEE Press, 2014.