Some thoughts about drones and govt regulation, from the always interesting John Robb:
Here’s one of the reasons that the FAA has seized control of all drones (including toys) and is slowing the development of automated aviation to a crawl. It’s a dumb move, since it won’t work, but they are doing it anyway.
The reason is that drones make disruption easy.
[. . .]
The big question: Will the FAA effort to control drones protect against this type of disruption? No. It won’t.
It actually makes the situation worse. It prevents the development of the safeguards an economically viable drone delivery network would produce.
Read the whole (brief) post to get Robb’s full argument, which is a plausible one.
Perhaps the FAA is motivated more by inertia and typical bureaucratic risk-aversion than by any sophisticated consideration of the likely downstream societal effects of drone development.
The FAA’s proposed regulations would mainly affect commercial drone users who would probably be constrained by liability in any case. The pilot-license requirement makes little sense except to restrict entry into the market and as a means of tracking users. These regulations are not going to be easily enforceable. Maybe the FAA is being driven in part by lobbying from airlines and police agencies. Overregulation will incentivize the development of quiet drones, camouflaged drones, miniature drones, RF-shielded drones, autonomous drones that can fly programmed courses without radio control, etc.
Big companies that can game the political system will get drones. Governments will get drones. Hackers, criminals and terrorists will get drones. Small and mid-sized businesses will pay up for approved outsourced drone services or will go without. The availability of liability insurance to cover drone-caused damage may be a significant issue.
Someone wrote that operating a drone should be like owning a dog: minimal formal regulation, ad hoc restrictions based on local conditions, and liability for damages. That seems about right.
We shall see what happens. At this point I’m more concerned about the FAA than about caltrops.