A drone’s going to accidently take down an airliner

I had this epiphany driving toward my den of evil (cubicle) this morning. Again and again you’re hearing news stories of idiots flying their toys within a few thousand feet of big planes. This is a growing symptom of the apparent bright new shiny world of drones you keep hearing about.

This is spitting distance when you consider the physics and vector math of air traffic control. If a flock of birds can drop a jet, how do you think it’s going to go when a ten pound wonder goes right into side of a jumbo with several-hundred knots of closure speed?

Amazon, Hollywood producers, pedophiles, and tech freaks all want you to be down with drones. They want them to make money, for convenience, for kicks, and to make fucking money. The problem is there’s no construct to evaluate the potential impact of these robots on society. This is all new scary ground.

A sixteen year old douche hopped up on coke now has the power to do the following provided his parents gave him the fucking money to buy one:

– Ram an airliner; either deliberately or through sheer ineptness

– Spy on his teenage crush through her window

– Acquire a beer from the local shopette

– Ram a building; either deliberately or through sheer ineptness

– Kidnap a lemur from the local zoo

– Conduct a drug exchange

– Assassinate a person; either deliberately or through sheer ineptness

Why not? Once you’re flying this thing, they’re no rules. There’s no cop up there to pull the damn thing over. And if the piece of shit is hovering around randomly, who’s to say who or where the controller is?

No, no I’m not overacting. Look, here you go, here’s just one example, all you need is six-grand and it’s yours:


The max takeoff weight for this damn thing is 24 pounds. 24 fucking pounds!

Oh, but at least the manufacturer has the good common sense to recommend it be used only by folks older than five. Five! No, I’m not shitting you, look, I took a screenshot:

uav screenshot


Now I’m sure the company’s mighty fine lawyers are all over this, adult supervision, no liability after purchase, and so on. But really?

Our blessed government has fucked this up. Congress can’t be bothered to do anything useful. The FAA will implement drone policy sometime before the next ice age.

In the meantime, you might want to be peaking out your window as you descend into Chicago Midway next time. Not that you can do anything should you spot one, but at least you’ll have a few seconds heads up so you know what’s happening as you die.

Drones should:

– Require a licensing and training program similar to a driver’s license

– Should only be purchased via a titling process similar to cars

– Include mandatory software and hardware that directly ties the aircraft by name to its owner

– The punishment for breaking drone law is exile to North Korea.

Even if my above points are met, somebody’s still going to die all the time. There’s no way around it. Like I said, there’s no precedent for this level of physical power and technological capability in the hands of one moron user. We’re not hacking K-Mart’s server here. We’re talking a physical asset, a piece of flying metal.

But if my above points aren’t met, then it’s still just the Wild West. The skies are not a place to play Wild West.


Fuck you, human technological progress

One thought on “A drone’s going to accidently take down an airliner

  1. Pingback: your own self-driving car is never going to happen; but if it does, you’re in trouble | The Arcturus Project

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