The very definition of what’s to be classified a ‘drone’ and the legal ramifications of such are being discussed. The fact that the USA’s FAA is yet to come out with definitive policy on use of UAVs for surveying is serious cause for concern. As we deal with all things geospatial, the focus shifts to the likes of the X100 from Trimble, SIRIUS PRO from Topcon, the Q-Pod from QuesrUAV, etc. They cost a lot more than the RC hobby airplane and quadcopters and deliver photogrammetric quality data. They can also fly much more than the 15-20 minutes that the RC hobby aircraft are capable of. Any UAV or drone used for mapping or surveying will necessarily have to fly on a pre-planned path. Not so with the RC hobby toys. The accidents and close misses reported due to UAVs (in peace time and civilian spaces) are almost all from the unregulated RC hobbyists. There is now an urgent need for formal and strict definitions to distinguish between a flying toy and a ‘UAV on a civilian mapping mission’. The real problem would be to detect the flying toys before they cause serious damage, and nab the owner.
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