Drones, privacy, and private property post some thorny problems for the worlds fast-growing quadrotor obsession. This is particularly evident in the US, where guns are prevalent and errant drones could well be gunned down by pissed off property owners. An opt-in, house-by-house permissions network could be an elegant solution.
The ambition of NoFlyZone, a consortium of (small) drone manufacturers, is to create a database of homeowners and flight permissions across the States. If you don't want drones to be able to overfly your residence, the solution is simple: enter your house in the online database, and after the next round of firmware updates, drones will be incapable of overflying your property, in the same way that they're currently banned from the airspace around airports and, uh, the White House.
It's an neat solution, but as it stands, far from a perfect one. It relies on manufacturers being a part of the organisation, and at the moment, a few big names — DJI, Parrot and 3D Robotics, to name a couple — aren't members.
The rate of adoption is also quite slow: once you enter your house in the database, that information has to be pushed to the manufacturer, who then incorporates it into a firmware update, which the drone owner then has to download (and let's be honest, barely anyone bothers to update their smartphone, let alone a drone). And, of course, there's the fact that lots of hobbyists build their drones from components or run custom firmware, and therefore will be blissfully ignorant of the database as they buzz your topless sunbathing.
As a practical solution, then, it's a bit lacking in its current form. But as a proof-of-concept of what a future, perhaps government-backed solution with more teeth could look like? None too shabby. [NoFlyZone via TechCrunch]
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