Future Drone Technology (Essay)

free essayDomestic unmanned aerial planes or vehicles, otherwise known as drones for personal use, are not necessarily associated with killing and tracking targets during overseas operations. In other words, domestic drones are basically autonomous vehicles that are equipped with sensors or cameras to ensure that assorted data is collected from an aerial vantage point (Zhou, Zhou, & Zhou, 2014). Additionally, this kind of machines has been now employed for some time by aircraft enthusiasts and hobbyists; as of recent, their employment has grown tremendously owing to the fact that the Federal Aviation Administration is trying to grant a preliminary license for the usage of domestic drones by government agencies and other law enforcement institutions. Drones employed for personal purposes vary based on their usage and capabilities from semi-autonomous, rotorcraft, to small ones among other types of drones. Additionally, as much as their sophistication and capabilities vary, it is acknowledged that their purpose and functions are alike, primarily in terms of collecting and gathering information and data from an aerial point of view, which may be of use to the operators on the ground. Moreover, the employment of drones has been witnessed in different fields including commercial, hobbyists, industrial, agricultural, law enforcement, and agricultural. To comprehend the drone technology as far as its personal and domestic use is concerned, it is important to explore the concept of the drone technology in terms of its safety, privacy, and some of the policies that govern its usage in different fields.

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Safety of Drones

The increased employment of domestic drones looms as one of the most prominent technological elements that is causing a major headache mostly to regulators who are trying to keep the airspace safe and protect the privacy of individuals. In this case, one of the major controversial issues revolves around the sharing of airspace that is found between a remotely controlled environment and the commercial center operated by business (Al Zayer et al.,2016). On the domestic and personal use front, there is also an important issue of young children flying drone models across dangerous aerial levels. In this regard, there is an increasing concern that the launch of domestic drones in the backyards may lead to searching and spying on the neighbors. This debate has made the discussion of drones’ safety in the United States rather heated owing to the fact that there is increasing usage of drones for photography, crop dusting, mapping, spraying, and seeding. Because of these safety concerns, there has been a number of legislations that have been postulated to curb the issue of safety in relation to the drone technology (Al Zayer et al.,2016). For instance, the National Conference, which deals with the State legislatures, has recently indicated the fact that approximately eight states have enacted the legislation relating to the use of drones both for domestic and personal purposes. In the process, 35 other states have established measures that will ensure that this law is enacted as soon as possible.

Anyone in need of the drone technology will be required to register the drone and undergo a safety test in the process (Al Zayer et al., 2016). Safety and privacy are issues that are being discussed across the political spectrum. People are naturally worried about data and information gathered without their knowledge and without people responsible for these actions being charged for any form of crime, which implies that people are concerned about the issue of drone surveillance. In this case, it can be noted that the employment of drones is assumed in some political spheres as invasion of the safety and privacy of individuals. To evaluate potential harm that the employment of drones for personal and domestic use causes to individuals, it is important to determine what the employment of drones for nongovernmental use entails (Al Zayer et al., 2016). When it comes to domestic use, it is argued that there is a real danger posed by the prospect of individuals having a big brother watching and hence making them cultivate their moves and modify their behaviors in public. In so doing, it is important to note that drones mostly affect the less disadvantaged in the society. In essence, most people spend time shriveling the community of the less fortunate, hence depriving them of their right to the expectation of privacy. Perhaps, according to some people, the domestic employment of drones can be said to enhance the issue of racial profiling in some states. Therefore, it is crucial to understand that without any proper safeguards in regards to safety, drones could leave some room for suspicionless surveillance and exponential expansion (Al Zayer et al., 2016). In other words, the threat posed by drones in relation to privacy and safety is increasing, especially given the fact that some groups of individuals will have an ability to limit the liberty of the less fortunate ones.

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The Civil Aviation Authority has also indicated the fact that there have been situations of near misses where drones, especially those used for domestic purposes, have been flown close to technical forbidden areas/aircrafts (Culver, 2014). As much as police aircrafts that are surveiling a particular area can raise a privacy concern, it is argued that drones for domestic use can at times target people for surveillance with no reason. However, given the expenses connected with using a helicopter, it is clear that drones are more likely to be used by many people, hence making the issue of privacy and safety of drones a top priority. Due to the fact that police aircrafts are not only expensive, they are also large in size and limited in number, drones’ employment is more capable of monitoring and surveillance of individuals without them noticing (West & Bowman, 2016). Moreover, a helicopter cannot move close to an individual to record a video or an audio conversation, a thing that drones can easily do, hence being used for limitless functions because of their abilities. Therefore, this feature makes drones dangerous to individual safety and privacy (West & Bowman, 2016). To curb the issue of safety and privacy, it is important for both the government and individuals to remain vigilant in relation to administrative and legislative proposals that affect individual safety and privacy rights. It is also essential for individuals to express to their representatives concerns regarding safety and privacy invasion caused by the domestic employment of drones. Undoubtedly, drone employment for domestic use should be regulated since too much is at stake. In other words, freedom cannot be realized on its own, it is important to continue pushing legislative laws, policies, and the technological industry in regards to the establishment of drones and the regulatory acts regarding their use (Al Zayer et al., 2016). In this case, people should keep on working towards tracking developments regarding the privacy of the public and the employment of the drone technology; they should stand against any development that opposes the privacy and safety of individuals.

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The use of the drone technology for domestic purposes has been on the increase hence prompting the need to develop a safety and health program in regards to the employment of drones for personal use (West & Bowman, 2016). When moving beyond the house and the home compound to the immediate environment with the drone technology, it is not clear what the permissible circumstances for search are. In this case, it is argued that the Fourth Amendment does not clearly outline robust restrictions as far as the government areas surveillance is concerned with regard to the swimming pool, backyard, porch, or deck (Al Zayer et al., 2016). Yet, the Supreme Court has clearly postulated that the area surrounding private property or a home compound receives the level of privacy that is equated to that given to a home itself; however, their rulings in regards to aerial surveillance are somewhat different.

The Issue of Privacy and the Drone Technology

To play catch-up, the federal governments have enacted some laws and regulations that are aimed at protecting individuals’ privacy in the sense that there is privacy in regards to gaining access to certain settings, places, and information while dealing with safety concerns on a general basis. For instance, drone operators are required to take into consideration the safety of the environment and the people living in the areas where they fly their drones, which includes taking care of personal injuries and buying insurance (Wang et al., 2016). The level and the amount of training that a person requires in order to control or pilot surveillance depends on the individual manufactures since most of them include instructions or a training program for those purchasing a drone. As at the moment, there are no FAA guidelines for the type of drone training required but it is believed that some form of graduated licensing will be implemented very soon to cater for different types of aerial vehicles (Al Zayer et al., 2016). Additionally, some higher learning institutions have already commenced offering courses on drone flying and domestic safety. For instance, at North Dakota University, there are both certificated and degree programs that revolve around drone operations (Wang et al., 2016). As a result, community institutions and colleges have also taken into consideration the issue of drone operations having begun with offering courses, which are already in the process (Wang et al., 2016). Moreover, other schools have started teaching their students about the issue of drone regulatory environment and drone operations. From a general perspective, it is acknowledged that these drones begin with extensive time in simulators prior to moving to more advanced courses as far as drone technology is concerned (Wang et al., 2016). Furthermore, there has been a number of online degree programs, for instance, the Master’s degree in Engineering that is offered at Unmanned Vehicle University for drone flight. The program is offered in a span of two years based on the scale of eight consecutive quarters.

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The courts have as well started taking notice of some of the privacy issues associated with drones (Virk & Evans, 2016). The preamble of the State Constitution of Washington acknowledges the right of individuals to privacy. Additionally, according to the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, it is inappropriate to submit individuals to unreasonable searches and seizures, which makes it an important law to many states when it comes to privacy. In this regard, the Fourth Amendment claims that the warrant is sanctioned for search by the judge. In this case, the warrant must therefore be made valid by having a probable cause to support it (Al Zayer et al., 2016). Nevertheless, for the Fourth Amendment to be successfully applied in different states, it is acknowledged that the action to be undertaken must be classified as a search. A search is allowed to happen in cases where an agent of the States physically intrudes on areas that are protected by the Constitution or the States Agents’ search activities may go against the personal privacy and reasonable expectation of privacy of the owner. Nevertheless, in many states, the Fourth Amendment is only responsible for protecting individuals subjected to search actions by paid or public officials hence making the activities of private citizens exempted from the federal protection.

It is also clear that any new technology is always accompanied by new hurdles; hence, personal and domestic drone users who plan to depend highly on drones must be aware that different state regulation agencies impose penalties and fines as far as the breaking of privacy regulations is concerned (Smith, 2015). In areas of the public that lie outside a home, such as city streets or open fields, it is clear that there are no privacy expectations. In this case, surveillance with the drone technology in areas that are not public is not classified as a search according to what is postulated by the Fourth Amendment. Additionally, it is also true for drones employed for personal use. However, as much as public areas surveillance may not be classified as a search, it is argued that the pervasive tracking may as well be considered illegal.

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Policies that Govern the Drone Technology

The issue of domestic drones or rather the drones for personal use has become one of the common topics based on the Congress’s recently passed FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Mathews, 2014). Under the current laws and regulations, it is specified that drones for personal and domestic use are restricted to flying in airspaces that are specifically designated (Finn & Donovan, 2016). Public actors are universally acknowledged as those individuals acting on behalf of the government being subject to laws and regulations of the government, which also encompasses private citizens who are working under public instruction and are expected to adhere to the Fourth Amendment whenever they would want to carry out a search warrant. In this regard, the employment of drones for personal use raises the question about the reasonable search requirements (Finn & Donovan, 2016). Apparently, as a technological vehicle, drones are capable of collecting an extensive amount of data since they can incorporate many features such as infrared cameras, live-feed videos, radars, and heat sensors. Some drone technology is also capable of eavesdropping on Wi-Fi networks and electronic transmissions thereby intercepting text messages as well as cell phone conversations (Culver, 2014). However, a public actor may be able to believe that the employment of the drone technology does not allow a search since the actor did not physically intrude on areas that are under protection by the constitution or where an individual does not possess an expectation of privacy.

Given the potential and capability of incorporating the data and information obtained from drones with sophisticated analytics software, the legal and policy frameworks related to the issue of personal use of drones can be said to be substantial (Custers, 2016). Privacy within a home setting becomes a challenging question when the employment of powerful technology is taken into consideration. Additionally, the general notion is that something that can be assumed to be plain view, does not necessarily deserve a right to privacy. For instance, a supplier of illegal marijuana who grows it in front of his window does not have a right to privacy and can be liable for arrest without any search warrant. Yet, with the technological advancements, it is important to note that the drone technologies may be equipped with cameras, capacity to see through the walls, and thermal imaging (Culver, 2014). However, it must be mentioned that if individuals employ a technology that is not permitted for public use, it is necessary for them to obtain a search warrant. As a result, this clearly implies that the drone technology can be employed only for viewing objects that are found in plain view without going against the rules and regulations postulated in the Fourth Amendment. Apparently, because of the rapid technological advancement, it becomes clear that the issue of the drone technology and search warrants needs to be discussed and defined further in more detail.

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Conclusion

To comprehend the drone technology as far as its personal and domestic use is concerned, it is important to explore this concept in terms of its safety, privacy, and some of the policies that govern the drone technology as one of the most widely used technologies in different fields. Additionally, with the increasing employment of drones for domestic use, there is a growing concern about the safety and privacy of individuals. The ability of drones to carry out surveillance without individuals’ knowing that they are being monitored may cause serious legal issues, especially when it comes to the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The latter postulates that a person must be able to obtain a search warrant whenever he/she would like to monitor and carry out surveillance, especially in a private area. As a result, different states have postulated policies that govern the employment of drones in order to curb their citizens’ concerns about safety and privacy. People are also encouraged to be trained adequately in regards to the employment of drones, which includes the necessary legal issues related to the drone technology and the safety regulations required for flying a drone. Therefore, it is recommended that individuals should be vigilant in regards to the employment of the drone technology, especially when it comes to the implementation of a corresponding policy and regulations of drones’ usage.