These days it seems aerial photography, particularly when involving drones, is the new hot topic for those with too much time on their hands. Our experience of unintelligent prejudice against UAVs is by now fairly extensive, but a new low was reached recently when I was harangued by an elderly birdwatcher who decided the Inspire Pro was evil and obviously mostly used for transporting drugs and weapons into prisons, when not engaged in snooping on defenceless householders!
But ignoring the luddites and moving on, drone technology is advancing rapidly into new areas, everything from agricultural spraying to delivering Amazon’s parcels. It’s hard to see how they will get it off the ground (ha ha!), but Amazon seem determined to trial it.
As a professional aerial photography outfit, the potential safety hazards seem to us to be completely insurmountable, not to mention that the very system will require ignoring some of the most fundamental CAA rules about flying beyond line of sight, in built up areas, etc., etc.
You can’t help wishing them luck, though, as seeing these things flying around harmlessly may do a lot to rehabilitate the reputation of drones with the more prejudiced members of the public who seem to regard them all as scaled-down predators!
Exactly how Amazon intend to realise their vision is not clear, certainly not from the FAQs on the website which are spectacularly uninformative, even by Amazon standards. There is a lot of talk about ‘working with regulators’ and the like, but an almost complete lack of facts to back up the feasibility of the concept. It’s a bit like Virgin taking bookings for trips to the moon, even though they as yet have no idea of how to get passengers there, or even what the point is!
Whatever happens with the Amazon project though, automated transport seems to be an idea whose time has come if the current obsession with driverless cars is anything to go by. Again, it’s hard to see where the demand is coming from, as many of our traffic congestion problems result from the fact that most of us actually prefer driving ourselves around to being chauffeured, but one should never underestimate the ability of large international corporations to sell us what we don’t need!
Drones on the other hand, are definitely here to stay as they perform such a variety of useful services besides aerial photography. Drones are now probably the most effective way to photograph buildings, installations, people outdoors, vehicles and landscapes and are currently being used to monitor wildlife, fight fires, weave tensile structures and survey crops as well as deliver medicine.
If you’re one of those people who worries about being spied on, drones really are the least of your problems. We are told that the UK has more CCTV cameras than anywhere else in the world and Facebook, Google Earth and a good old fashioned pair of high powered binoculars are still the best way to scope out your next burglary target (if that’s the kind of thing you do) and far more discreet.
It will always be a challenge to get some people to accept new technology, particularly when they don’t see themselves collecting any direct benefit, but that’s precisely why it’s important to always point out the advantages and stick to your guns when passing troublemakers are trying to shut you down.