Good drone or bad drone?

24th March 2016

In recent times there has been a surge in popularity in drones and their use is now commonplace. Aerial images that were once taken by light aircraft are now capable of being taken through the use of drones. YouTube holds drone footage of almost anywhere in Ireland and beyond. You can now fly over McHale Park or around Downpatrick Head and see first-hand images and perspectives that could never have been imaged before.

The popularity of drones, however, has needed to be regulated. In December 2015, the Irish Aviation Authority imposed restrictions on all drone users and those intending to buy drones. This was done to try and put some form of framework in place to make sure that people’s privacy is protected and some order created. Any drone purchased anywhere which has a weight of 1kg or more must be registered with the Irish Aviation Authority. This is to monitor who is operating these drones where they could be used for surveillance.

The regulations also say that you cannot fly a drone within 120 meters of any person or assembled people, vessel (such as a boat) or a building which is not owned by the drone operator. Again, this is to protect the integrity of people and of their property and to make sure that drone operators do not snoop around.

It is common sense that such regulations be introduced. While there are many leisure and commercial uses for drones, it is important that they are not used as a means of trying to harm people. It appears that in the not too distant future drones will be used to deliver parcels and act as cargo carriers, thereby helping industry.

The right to a person’s privacy is guaranteed by the Irish Constitution. If anyone feels they are the victim of a wandering drone, the Irish Aviation Authority is responsible for policing this activity. At the same time, the positive aspects in this new technology must be highlighted and embraced for the benefit of everyone.

Mayo County Council has now started a project to encourage drone developers to use Mayo as a test base. The county already has advanced technology businesses. It is hoped that by encouraging an environment to allow such developers to come to Mayo, that it can become our own “Silicone Valley”. Bearing this in mind, you may see extra traffic in the air which you may not have seen before.

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