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Government Technology

The Problem With Mandatory Drone Registration (roboticstrends.com) 223

An anonymous reader writes: Drone lawyer and commercial pilot Jonathan Rupprecht believes any drone registration plan is a necessary first step, but he's also doubtful that registering drones will be a valuable solution. "Who is going to regulate this? Point-of-sale? Wal-Mart? Best Buy?" he asked. "What if I'm ordering parts off the Internet and put them together? That's what the gun industry does." A registration number, he said, could quickly be lost if a drone is bought and sold multiple times. Rupprecht believes geofencing will produce far better results by preventing problems as opposed to trying to figure out who is responsible after something has happened.
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The Problem With Mandatory Drone Registration

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  • Difference? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @04:16PM (#50760981) Journal

    What is the difference between "bad guy does illegal stuff" and "bad guy does illegal stuff with drone"?

    Nothing. Doing illegal stuff is already against the law. This is right up there with ... "on the internet" style patents IMHO.

    • Re: Difference? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kichigai Mentat ( 588759 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @04:27PM (#50761107) Journal
      The problem isn't that the majority people doing illegal things with quadcopters aren't acting maliciously, but are acting in ignorance. It's just like licensing people to drive: it forces them to learn the rules of the road, so fewer people will be ignorant of them.
      • Re: Difference? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by OhPlz ( 168413 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @04:47PM (#50761329)

        Yet we don't have a bicycle license or regulation scheme (in most places). We don't have skiing licenses or regulation. There are far more dangerous things that people do than fly little drones. It's a free country. Rather than regulate every bad idea a person can have (which is infinite), use the laws we have and punish some to serve as warnings for the others.

      • Re: Difference? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @05:43PM (#50761699)

        My grandmother learned to drive before there were licenses (1930s, rural Tennessee) - her first car had no functioning brakes, if you came to an intersection and there was cross traffic: veer into the field and come around again, there weren't that many cars out there, she almost never had to circle around twice before proceeding.

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @04:16PM (#50760991)
    Drones are interesting but beyond their scary name they are just the classic tool. Like knives, gasoline, matches, and leaf blowers there are the vast majority of people who will do good with them and a tiny few who will do bad things.

    Fertilizer monitoring probably is a good thing as a single bad person can do a tremendous amount of damage. But right now a drone is going to give someone a bad cut or maybe take out an eye.

    What I do smell is the government getting really pissed off that drones are being used to inform. That is their worst nightmare. Drones monitoring police, or fire is not what they want. They love when they have an excuse to push the public back and exert their authority. They love when they can put armed patrols around a pollution site where some big donor has been given cart blanche to pollute their way to another billion dollars. They hate when a drone flies overhead and exposes the truth.

    As for drones interfering with flight operations, have you ever met a goose? If you are a pilot and your choices are to hit a goose or to hit a drone pretty much every pilot will chose the drone.

    But sadly various criminals are going to buy better and better drones and come up with better and better ways to use them. So drug deliveries, even armed robberies are coming.

    So this is going to be the classic war on drugs stupidity where they don't have any impact on the criminals while having a massive impact on the benefits that drones could provide the public.

    I also wonder if some of these regulations are coming from the really big aviation companies who have pretty much entirely missed out on the commercial drone market and they know that if they craft the regulations carefully enough they will shut out the innovations pouring out of small companies all over. This way it will end up only being large corporations selling to the police, the military, and other large corporations? This completely screws the little guy. But at what point has government taken the needs of the little guy into serious consideration in the last 50 years when it came up against huge corporations?

    This is giving me a headache. I had better take one of my cheap aspirin before the TPP allows Bayer to somehow renew their patent.
    • While I may agree with some of your post, What you smell is Airline Pilots Assoc. lobbying government to regulate them. Lets keep our eye on the ball here and not go off into the weeds shall we? CNN and FOX sensationalizing Airplane "close calls" Police complainging about drones "almost taking out" their choppers and again sensationalized by CNN/FOX et al and this is what you get. It has nothing with 'OMG the gubmint don't want the people to be informed by drones"
      • While I may agree with some of your post, What you smell is Airline Pilots Assoc. lobbying government to regulate them. Lets keep our eye on the ball here and not go off into the weeds shall we? CNN and FOX sensationalizing Airplane "close calls" Police complainging about drones "almost taking out" their choppers and again sensationalized by CNN/FOX et al and this is what you get. It has nothing with 'OMG the gubmint don't want the people to be informed by drones"

        Actually there are not many governments who want the people to be properly informed by anyone. A tough-minded populace which understands how to think critically, deconstruct an argument, follow the money, and recognize propaganda tactics (aka "manufactured consent") is extremely undesirable to control freaks everywhere. The mindless drivel and selective reporting that comes from the government-friendly corporate media is what they like. A good sensational story about drones, or a huge phony debate about

        • agreed, it's mainly the politcal parties that have unpopular agendas would rather not have the people properly informed.
      • by es330td ( 964170 )

        What you smell is Airline Pilots Assoc. lobbying government to regulate them.

        I don't know about this, but if so it is perfectly understandable. I fly small airplanes and nearly crashed once when I collided with a turkey vulture while descending to land. This is a bird that weighs maybe five pounds and is relatively soft compared to the materials of which a drone is made and yet still caused thousands of dollars of damage to the wing and support strut. The most dangerous time for a GA aircraft is close to the ground, which is also the hardest situation to adjust to unexpected objects

        • "Understandable" yes, but alas we're looking for "reasonable".

          A five pound turkey is NOT "soft compared to the materials of which a drone is made", unless you think bone and muscle is softer than styrofoam and epoxy. Yes, there are small motor components made from aluminium and ceramics, similar to how birds have skulls made from hard bone, but you can cut the largest RC component (the lithium battery) with a butter knife, and carbon fibre tends to shatter.

          The energy of a collision is proportional to mv^2.

    • by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @04:49PM (#50761345)

      But right now a drone is going to give someone a bad cut or maybe take out an eye.

      Here are some much worse things done by remote controlled aircraft.
      Kill someone [dailymail.co.uk]
      Interfered with fire fighting [torontosun.com]
      Interfered with police [fortune.com]
      Invasion of privacy [bbc.com]

      As for drones interfering with flight operations, have you ever met a goose? If you are a pilot and your choices are to hit a goose or to hit a drone pretty much every pilot will chose the drone.

      How many geese to you know that carry a lithium battery that can explode under the right circumstances? Geese are not within human control but drones are. We do what we can.

      • ... a lithium battery that can explode under the right circumstances ...

        Please, show me where I can see a LiPo exploding after it's been chopped into several million pieces in a fraction of a second and the pieces scattered.

        I've seen LiPo's explode after a knife is stuck through it, and LiPo's explode after a hexacopter crash-landed and the battery broke away, but not before the carbon-fiber blade gashed the battery deeply. The commonality there was the battery remained intact after the incident. After going through a turbine, just how intact would the battery be?

        • After going through a turbine, just how intact would the battery be?

          How about impacting the engine of a light aircraft? Not all aircraft use jet turbines.

    • >right now a drone is going to give someone a bad cut or maybe take out an eye

      See, and I've always thought the Predator mounted hellfire missiles were overpriced for what they can do.

  • by Forthan Red ( 820542 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @04:19PM (#50761019)
    I see this as being just as effective as the FCC requiring a license to use the GMRS walkie-talkies you can buy at Walmart - which is to say, not all.
  • "Who is going to regulate this? Point-of-sale? Wal-Mart? Best Buy?" he asked. "What if I'm ordering parts off the Internet and put them together? That's what the gun industry does."

    What's what the gun industry does?

    I don't see that quote on the linked article.

    A drone sucked in a jet engine is going to be all over the place. (A) Are you going to require metal placards attached to the drone? Furthermore, it is easy to scratch off a serial number. (B) Is possession of a drone with a scratched off serial number going to become illegal?

    (A) No. (B) Yes. That was easy!

    • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
      Private manufacture of non NFA restricted firearm is legal.
      • Private manufacture of non NFA restricted firearm is legal.

        I may have misunderstood you, but it's entirely legal to make your own firearm at home.

        That doesn't include machine guns, short-barreled rifles/shotguns, suppressors, and "destructive devices" (grenades, bombs, etc) but you can indeed make your own handguns and long guns (rifles) without any legal liability as long as you don't sell or transfer them to another person or entity.

        My apologies if I misunderstood your comment.

  • There are plenty of "toy" grade quads out there with no GPS functionality whatsoever that you can get up to mischief with. The Syma X8, for example: It can carry a Go-Pro, and a range booster can push it out a distance. But no GPS at all.

    Those machines with GPS functionality have the means to necessarily disable it. If I'm flying and lose GPS for whatever reason (solar flare, heavy clouds etc), I need to be able to regain control of the bird and bring it back, otherwise there is now an uncontrollable thi

  • I could find only one accident on youtube involving a drone and a manned aircraft. But it turned out to be a montage, a fake video.

    I read that shark attacks on humans are extremly rare, just about a dozen or less per year in the entire world. Could it be that a fear of drones is also a similar phatasm, but even less realistic?
    • You're right. There has never been a manned/RC aircraft accident. Not in the 50 years of the hobby. When planes fall out of the sky, it's either because the pilot screws up and flies into a hill, or air traffic control messes up and crashes them into each other.

      There have been a few reported "near misses" with things that might have been a "drone", or possibly a bird, or another plane, or perhaps Superman.

      No-one is entirely sure, possibly because trying to reliably spot even the biggest feature-film-grade o

    • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
      Democrats (and to some extend Republicans too) are all about legislating on phantasm.
  • by honestmonkey ( 819408 ) on Monday October 19, 2015 @05:22PM (#50761589) Journal
    I agree with the folks that say licenses are not the answer. My dog is licensed, and he STILL can't drive well at all. I told him "The speed limit in school zones is 15 mph", but it's like he doesn't even listen. I'll tell you the truth, I really don't like riding with him much at all. I don't think he could control a drone any better than he can drive a car. What did getting him the license solve? Nothing!
  • How do you geo-fence something without any geo-position capability?

    "drones" includes the balsa wood RC planes people were flying 30 years ago.
    It also includes the $20 toys you buy from China.

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      How do you geo-fence something without any geo-position capability?

      Yes. As we can see, most of the people calling for LAWS TO CONTROL SCARY NEW STUFF have no idea of what they're talking about.

      Which is why they're calling for LAWS TO CONTROL SCARY NEW STUFF in the first place.

      • Except it isn't even scary new stuff

        It's old stuff that has suddenly become cheaper, popular and mass produced.

        If only common sense was a prerequisite for anybody with public influence.

      • Sadly, this is the wisest thing I've read so far today.

        I would say "I don't want to live on this planet anymore", except that a David Windestadl - style helium-assisted "drone" launch was probably my best chance to make orbit, and I doubt I'll be able to get that shit registered now.

        "On your licence application, you wrote you intend to 'slip the surly bonds of earth and punch the face of god'. I'm afraid we don't have a category for that."

  • And we know we can't regulate those on the roads, so this will do no better.
  • Amazon already decamped it's UAV/drone research to Canada.

    Who's next? Bureaucratic red tape and regulation can only hurt.
  • Or should I say "Ruprecht the Monkey Boy?" ;)
  • Force them to carry transponders periodically transmitting their registration number. Make it part of the firmware operating the drone, and make it signed firmware, so if someone tries to alter it, the drone won't fly at all.
  • The problem with mandatory drone registration is that queen bees will now have to spend their entire careers doing paperwork.

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