Amazon Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos announced on “60 Minutes,” in December, 2013, that the global electronic commerce company is working toward using unmanned drones to deliver packages directly to customers’ homes. For most Americans, this was the introduction to the idea of drones flying around their neighborhoods for commercial use.
Drones are helping firefighters fight wildfires, because they can go into unsafe territory and report the movement and intensity of the blaze to firefighters on the ground. In Tijuana, police are using multiple drones, bought from 3D Robotics, for “preventing crime.”
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) currently does not have regulations finalized for commercial drones, and it is working to have a comprehensive set of guidelines by 2017. For now, FAA has limited the altitude of commercial drones at 400 feet to avoid interfering with the flight of airplanes.
Without laws governing the use of these drones, citizens and companies are susceptible to unethical use of the drones. Corporations could use drones for spying on rivals. The government could spy on its own citizens without their knowledge.
Many Americans are uncomfortable with such unchecked power and would prefer to maintain their privacy, which creates the need for anti-drone technology. State legislature have passed laws for a handful of states, but Congress has not put forth national legislature for drones.
Domestic Drone Countermeasures (DDC) is an upstart company that is developing hardware that can detect drones and alert the user when drones are flying within his or her “Drone Detection Grid.” Users can customize the size and shape of their grids by adjusting the wireless sensors. The product offers a 50-foot radius of detection, but that can be increased with more sensors.
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) projects that the market for domestic drones to reach $13 billion by 2017. DDC does not want to stop the production of commercial drones, but rather they view themselves as a piece of the market.
DDC needs funding and have opened a Kickstarter campaign that concludes in mid-July. They hope to raise over $9,000, but have only collected $736 in pledges as of June 20. Their campaign has been met with negative reactions.
“I’m surprised by the response considering that our product only bolsters the recreational drone sales,” DDC founder Amy Ciesielka said.
DDC seeks to build a product that can protect individuals’ privacy, which would be beneficial to swaying public opinion in favor of commercial drones. People can install a product to protect themselves from any unwanted espionage.
“We could work hand-in-hand (with drone manufacturing) and I think investors would want to be involved in both sides.”
The FAA estimates that 30,000 drones will be flying in American airspace by the year 2020. Whether privacy protection is provided by DDC or not, Americans will likely desire anti-drone technology.
Photo: Cathy Cheney | Portland Business Journal