Doug Toppin's Blog

My thoughts on technology and other stuff

How Are Drones and Linux Alike?

Linux began to appear in enterprise/corporate environments “through the back door” many years ago, generally in defiance of IT department procedures. Developers began to install it because it served their purposes (development, test and just out of interest/enthusiasm) at a very low price and they were able to effectively use it. IT departments, usually averse to change, did not want it installed on company networks or company equipment for several reasons including concerns about open source software and risk, potential licensing issues and the risk of inducing instability in their existing infrastructure. I think that drones (UAVs) are following the same path with regard to the FAA. The FAA has been tasked to facilitate the controlled introduction of drones into the national airspace and (I think) just in general. This has resulted in years of studies, plans and so on but what is really happening is that consumer and small business level drones are appearing much more quickly than the FAA can react or prepare.

Drones have become cheap and effective enough to be within reach of many people and businesses and are being used for event photography, news events, wildlife observation, utility line examination and just out of interest/enthusiasm (sound familiar?) along with many other current and burgeoning applications ) some of which are against current regulations having to with air and personal safety.. There is no lack of opportunity for the utility of drones and recent events such as the Corvette museum sinkhole show how they can quickly and effectively serve a purpose far beyond what was originally envisioned. Their use has many potential concerns ranging from their size, weight, power plant (gas or battery), personal privacy, distraction, communications loss and generally their just banging into or falling on unsuspecting people.

I don’t know how the FAA will be able to control their introduction but I’m certain that their use will continue to explode as the technology evolves and the cost continues to drop. There was an old joke about IT departments also being known as “The Department of No”. I think that the FAA will be stuck with the same moniker and just as unsuccessful in trying to control this situation.

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