There is no question that we are living in the midst of a drone revolution. Consumers around the world are being captivated by the prospect of controlling these high-tech flying machines, and questions about their safety are beginning to emerge. An early 2017 report published by The New York Times indicates that drones are literally flying off store shelves: 1.2 million were sold as holiday gifts for a grand total of 2.8 million drone purchases in 2016.
It can be safely said that drones can only be as safe as the people who interact with them, but here are five things to keep in mind in this regard:
In 2015, pop singer and heartthrob Enrique Iglesias suffered a gruesome injury during a live performance in Mexico as he reached out to touch a drone that had been filming him onstage. His fingers were deeply cut and lacerated by the rapidly spinning blades of the drone; although Iglesias finished the concert for the benefit of his fans, he suffered permanent nerve damage.
One of the scariest incidents involving a drone and a passenger airplane occurred at London's Heathrow Airport in April 2016. A drone collided against a British Airways flight on its final approach; thankfully, this incident unfolded without injury, but it calls into question the safe operation of these devices.
Ed Leon Klinger, a risk analyst whose work in the unmanned aerial vehicle industry is widely respected, has stated that one of the major concerns involving drones is their potential for becoming falling objects in congested urban environments such as busy downtown districts. This concern comes about at a time when online retail giant Amazon is planning on using drones to deliver products.
In January 2015, a government worker operating a drone in the District of Columbia lost control of the device, which crashed onto the White House lawn and sent Secret Service scrambling to protect former President Barack Obama because they believed it was an attack. A few months later, French security analysts released a report on the numerous drone sightings near nuclear reactors and weapons stations.
A few years ago, officers from the London Metropolitan Police Service arrested a drone pilot who was used to taking aerial shots of the city's landmarks. Although the pilot was eventually released without prosecution, lawmakers in England have been working on new measures to regulate drones so that they do not infringe upon privacy.
In the end, drones may only appear to be dangerous at this time because they are relatively new consumer items that awaiting regulation and familiarization by society as a whole.