I’m now starting to wonder how long it will be before a consumer can buy an armed drone. But until that happens Secom has announced they now have the first personal security drone on market that will hunt down burgers or boys hoping to talk to your daughter through her window. Costing a whopping $6K with a monthly support cost of $41, this level of security doesn’t come cheaply. But having a drone launch off the roof of a house is a far more proactive, intimidating form of security than the best alarm system.
Let’s talk about this next generation of personal defense drones.
Military and Personal Drones
Drones started out being a military tool, first to go observe where it was unsafe for manned aircraft. Then we started putting things like hellfire missiles on them and stuff got serious. Personal drones started out more as toys; they were nearly as hard to fly as remote control toy helicopters, and they weren’t cheap. Over time they’ve gotten more and more intelligent and easier to fly, so that now anyone can fly a drone. This holiday, they are expecting to sell the majority of the 700K (some peg this as a million over the holidays alone) drones forecast to be sold in 2015. That is a ton of drones hitting the skies this January.
With that many drones, most with cameras, you may want to consider an anti-drone gun. Yep, they make them, and since it doesn’t shoot bullets you don’t need to go through any waiting period. Unfortunately, this puppy isn’t on the market yet.
FAA To The Rescue – Say Goodbye To Your House
The FAA, to address this, has put in place a drone registration program. For $5 (if you do this in the first 30 days you even get your $5 back) everyone is to register their drone. Failure to do so before February 19, 2016 will carry civil penalties of up to $27K, and breaking the rules can add criminal penalties of up to $750K. So that cute little toy could become a quick way to become seriously broke. Remember, kids don’t really get consequences. If your child breaks the rules, that combined fine of nearly $800K could put a serious crimp in your vacation and retirement budgets, or more accurately, move you from your nice home to under a bridge someplace. Admittedly, this rule only applies to drones over .55 pounds, so smaller toys won’t attract the Feds.
The other hard rule for drones: Don’t fly in no-fly zones like airports, stay under 400’, and if you see a police helicopter, ground your drone fast. Best to take a class in drone safety, as there will likely be a number launched both on-line and at various locations. Be aware, at some point you may actually need a license to fly one of these, so being trained will get you ahead of the curve
Now part of the problem with the current generation of drones is that they aren’t that smart. They can fly into things, if they lose signal they may or may not return, and as one kid found out, they may wonder in front of dangerous things like police helicopters (that’ll be an expensive lesson). But like the security drone noted in the opening of this article, the next generation of drones is going to have a high end that will blend military grade technology with small size and relative affordability. This will make them far smarter.
Consumer drones should then automatically stay out of restricted areas and require overrides to fly over 400’ ceilings. They should automatically ground if they see another flying hazard and automatically avoid obstacles so you can more easily put them into ‘follow-me’ mode and catch that aerial shot of a downhill ski or bicycle run.
Finally, you’ll see a ton more professional drones. We’ll see a lot of industrial aircrafts, from small security drones to big drones designed to deliver packages or airlift remote medical patients.
And, of course, we’ll likely have more armed drones because, well, we are a tad nuts when it comes to weapons.
I have two drones myself which would be registered, but the FAA Website has been down pretty much every time I tried to use it today (got to love government efficiency). In the end, however, the risks involved in flying a drone just got far higher. The next generation of drones should be far safer, both legally and practically. You might want to take that into consideration if you are buying one for your rebellious child, as that rebellious streak could cost you your house.
President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group
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