DRONES: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

The use of drones in the private sector is a thriving business in the US. In early January 2016, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) started the process of maintaining a database for recreational users of drones and within a fortnight had registered about 181,000 drone users. It is expected that 1 million drones will be sold in the US in 2016. Now companies in the US are clamouring for commercial use of drones. These drones, weighing between 500 grams to 25 kg could be used for activities like land inspections, wedding photography, package deliveries etc. As of now, commercial drones are generally banned but their usage could be allowed with appropriate rules and regulations. The rules may require that the machines be flown during the day, below 500 feet, and within the line of sight of the person flying it

Drones could be used in multiple ways for public good such as traffic control, survey of transmission lines, railway lines, rivers, forests etc. In due course of time, such usage will be common in India also. Great thought must hence be given now on making appropriate rules for manufacture, sale and usage of drones for recreational as well as commercial use. While the utility of such technology is undeniable, it also throws up fresh security and privacy concerns. Such drones, used for border transgressions would be difficult to neutralise, considering the small time window available for reaction. Of greater concern is the possible use of such drones by non state actors, as remotely controlled or fully autonomous tactical weapons. These issues would need to be addressed.

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