Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Rogue Drones

Following-up from last month, "Drones Disrupt Aerial Firefight Drops Over Cajon Pass North Fire (VIDEO)."

And now at the Washington Post, "Rogue drones a growing nuisance across the U.S.":
Rogue drone operators are rapidly becoming a national nuisance, invading sensitive airspace and private property — with the regulators of the nation’s skies largely powerless to stop them.

In recent days, drones have smuggled drugs into an Ohio prison, smashed against a Cincinnati skyscraper, impeded efforts to fight wildfires in California and nearly collided with three airliners over New York City.

Earlier this summer, a runaway two-pound drone struck a woman at a gay pride parade in Seattle, knocking her unconscious. In Albuquerque, a drone buzzed into a crowd at an outdoor festival, injuring a bystander. In Tampa, a drone reportedly stalked a woman outside a downtown bar before crashing into her car.

The altercations are the byproduct of the latest consumer craze: cheap, easy-to-fly, remotely piloted aircraft. Even basic models can soar thousands of feet high and come equipped with powerful video cameras — capabilities that would have been hard to foresee just a few years ago.

Reports began surfacing last year of runaway drones interfering with air traffic and crashing into buildings. But the problem has grown worse as drone sales have surged.

“I’m definitely getting much more concerned about it,” Michael P. Huerta, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration, said in a phone interview Monday. He said the FAA was particularly worried about a surge in reports of drones flying dangerously close to airports. The latest incident came Sunday, when four airline crews reported a brush with a drone on a flight path into Newark International Airport.

Huerta added that the recent interference by drones with California firefighters was “really a wake-up call for a lot of people. This kind of thing has got to stop.”

Drones are an especially beneficial technology when used appropriately --- like in Seal Beach, where lifeguards use drones to prevent shark attacks --- but it's infuriating in cases like the Cajon Pass North Fire, where drone users forced firefighters to shut down operations.

Actually, though, the drone knocking out the homosexual rights activist at the Seattle gay parade is pretty beneficial too, heh.