The drones we love and hate, by James Harris

Tech and The City
Bianca Matley on January 14, 2019

Following flights being grounded at Heathrow after yet another drone sighting, alarm bells quickly start ringing.

After 1,000 flights were interrupted during Gatwick’s 36-hour shutdown back in December you immediately ask yourself how long Heathrow will be shut for, whether or not you know anyone flying in or out of the airport over the next few days, or how you’d feel if this interrupted any of the holidays you’ve got planned.

With all the inevitable anger surrounding drones as a result of these major airport shutdowns, it’s easy to forget how drones have revolutionised how we live.

Would the nation have fallen in love with nature documentaries such as Planet Earth had we not been using this advanced technology? Drones are now essential pieces of kit for film crews and have opened up access to stunning videography of natural wonders never seen before. Aside from their military use, they have changed how we see the world and are likely to alter how we live in the future too.

Don’t forget how we use drones for reconnaissance missions which can help find survivors after natural disasters; catching poachers in national parks; aiding weather forecasting by gaining insights from storms that piloted aircraft wouldn’t be able to fly into; and applying fertiliser to specific areas of farm crops that are failing. These are just some of a myriad of benefits that the technology already brings.

Looking to the future, Amazon Prime Air has been in testing since the retail giant successfully delivered its first package via drone back in 2016. The new service is set to meet increasing consumer demand for ever-faster delivery services, with Amazon claiming the new technology will offer delivery within just 30 minutes.

Who knows, we might even be getting drones to work instead of the Tube sooner than we think too. However, the Civil Aviation Authority’s recent woes will surely delay such ambitious plans.

There is unquestionably a need to tackle the illegal use of these flying machines and the Home Office is set to evaluate a range of counter-drone technology in the UK following the airport attacks. However, let’s not forget what this incredible technology can provide.