Drone industry in Washington to drone on about expanded unmanned aircraft use


A headline on today’s Stars & Stripes Website threateningly announces: “Drones descend on Washington — Just for show.” But the content of the story sounds much scarier than the headline.

It seems that something called the “Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International” is featuring 600 exhibits in a three-day trade fair in the D.C. convention center. In other words,  makers of drones are seeking every possible buyer for the unmanned aircraft ranging from law enforcement to those managing forests. The article says the first objective of the show is to ease the fear of drones, going so far as to avoid using the word “drone.” Ah, do we want an unmanned plane loaded with missiles flying over our neighborhoods and playgrounds? Anyone with even the most remote, pardon the pun, common sense probably wouldn’t.

Those who accept the broadest interpretation of the right to bear arms would perhaps believe these unmanned aircraft would be great for hunting white-tailed deer in the woods. Why you wouldn’t even have to leave the house to “harvest” a 12-point buck!

Aside from the, hopefully, most far-fetched uses of drones many people likewise fear the opportunities for expanded privacy intrusions that have already traveled far afield from what even the sharpest of our “Founding Fathers” might have imagined. You might have to give up some privacy to live in a safe world of expanding terror. Then again, there is no sense in handing the government the keys to the kingdom.

Even the most practical matters — how to manage an ever-crowded sky –seem far from determined in a world in which drones are commonplace. Plus, we must remember that is is already the 21st century and we’ve yet to see even the most limited use of flying automobiles!

I hope people see such a gathering of unmanned flight as a warning to our society that maybe, maybe hell, that we should have a giant public debate before these drones begin to take off aside general and commercial aviation. But I have been disappointed by society so many times before.