The government has no idea what to do about civilians flying drones. The devices, which come in an incredibly wide range of sizes and shapes, have a lot of great uses. You can slap a camera on to enhance your music video footage, many people simply enjoy them as a hobby, and Amazon is even planning to deliver packages with them. One seemingly disturbed artist is even turning dead animals into drones (see photo).
Despite the upside, there have now been quite a few cases of gun owners taking up arms in order to blow their neighbor’s drone out of the sky. The reasoning is usually fear that the device is being operated by some pervert or pedophile spying on their kids. Seems completely reasonable to me, but the FFA currently classifies drones as civilian aircraft. Meaning that destroying one can bring on a hefty fine, or even up to twenty years in prison. No, that’s not a type-o.
The problem is the mixed signals being sent to concerned citizens. Despite shooting one down being considered illegal by the federal government, local courts have been dropping the cases in defense of a right to privacy, and the feds have yet to step in and prosecute someone in spite of it. Of course, that’s not to say that they won’t eventually do so.
Other interesting cases involve an arrest in ohio of a drone operator when his device interfered with an emergency helicopter. And just in the past week a British Airways pilot reported hitting a drone as he was landing at London’s Heathrow airport. Authorities in that case believe the drone was launched from a nearby Royal Park, despite a ban on drones in all of Britain’s Royal Parks being put in place last year out of terrorism concerns.
As the problem has grown, Dutch police have responded by training eagles to pluck drones out of the sky. Another option is detailed in the video below. OpenWorks Engineering has developed a device that appears straight out of a video game, called the Skywall 100. It works by launching a small rocket that deploys a net to capture the target drone. As you can imagine, the device is receiving interest for police application. Check it out and let me know if you would shoot your neighbor’s drone flying over your backyard.