How much of your property do you really own? Before commercial airplanes were normalized in society, people owned the property “up to the heavens and down to hell” (Sneed), essentially anything above or below your house. However, times have changed and due to aviation, airspace has become a quite crowded and contested area. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) technically controls all of the airspace down to the soil, however, it doesn’t own this property. With the popularity of unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs) or drones skyrocketing, a lot of questions have been raised as to where the line is drawn. Last summer a man in Kentucky shot down a drone that was hovering approximately 200 feet above his backyard. He was arrested but cleared of any charges and the judge declared “He had the right to shoot this drone” (Sneed). However, what if the drone had been 300 or even 400 feet above his yard? Local legislators across the country are passing their own anti-drone policies such as in Oregon where landowners are allowed to sue if a person enters their property airspace at altitudes below 400 feet more than once without permission. At the end of the day, the FAA’s say triumphs local legislation, however, one can clearly see the problems with the increasing popularity of drones.
At the commercial level, companies like Amazon and FedEx have begun experimenting with drones for home delivery. With the utilization of robots and drones, Amazon would be able to offer some products within minutes of being ordered, revolutionizing customer convenience as their products would be dropped off right on their front porch. However, Amazon’s Prime Air comes with a lot of skeptics as the drawbacks and shortcomings of drones seem to outweigh any benefits the company would derive from them. For example, issues such as delivering heavy items, delivering to apartment buildings, thieves taking packages and drones themselves, drones being hacked into, low airspace collisions, adverse weather, and a host of other problems (Paul). CEO Jeff Bezos explained that the unmanned aircraft could deliver packages from several miles away and that their state-of-the-art “sense and avoid” technology would prevent drones from colliding with other things in the air upon landing in the delivery zones (Paur).
However, no matter how advanced the technology, as in the Kentucky case, nothing is going to stop someone from destroying one if they feel like their property rights are being infringed upon. Personally, I think drones have realistic implications for military, media, and recreational use; the media could utilize drone technology to capture breaking news from never before seen angles and the military could use drones for things like delivering supplies, in turn, taking humans out of potentially dangerous situations. However, I’m a little skeptical that everyone is going to be receiving their amazon packages from the sky. I don’t think the FAA has figured out exactly how to balance commercial company’s desires to streamline their delivery services and the public’s perception of robots flying over their backyard.
"Amazon Prime Air." YouTube. Amazon, 29 Nov. 2015. Web. 22 Feb. 2016.
Paul, Frederic. "10 Reasons Amazon's Drone Delivery Plan Still
Won't Fly." Network World. N.p., 23 Mar. 2015. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.
Paur, Jason. "Why Amazon’s Drone Delivery Service Won’t Fly Any
Time Soon." Wired. N.p., Dec. 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.
Sneed, Annie. "So Your Neighbor Got a Drone for Christmas." Scientific
American, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.