Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Commercial Drones In The News

You might have read about commercial drones possibly being deployed soon, delivering everything from your pizza to your Amazon.com order.

It's a fun thing to think about, but it's just not going to happen - at least it won't here in Canada.

In Canada, and most other places I can think of, non-military UAV's (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) require two things; first a special license to allow you to fly them, then second that drone must remain in your line of sight.  In urban areas it gets even more restricted - in my neighbourhood I am not allowed to fly anything above 500ft.

Several months ago, I attended a presentation where a drone was going up to the arctic to film some whales on behalf of the Canadian Government, and you could see a huge "coil" being drawn on the map where the faster drone had to keep circling the slower boat where the operator was, for hours, just to maintain the line of sight rule.  It was painful to see this hindrance in action - and that was still with the Government.  


So coming out of the arctic and back to your town or city - unless you live on the other side of the street from a pizza shop, there's no way a drone can be used because even going around the corner would break the law.  A similar set of restrictions apply for underwater drones.  Which is why we don't see many of those either.

The stories in the papers make for fun reading, but it just isn't going to happen for a long, long while.