This week a Chinese company revealed it’s progress in developing the drone taxi. This is a significant development in drone technology. Despite the fact that they carry passengers, they are still considered to be drones. Drones are remotely controlled. This means that these drones, will not have a driver or a pilot. While some People may think, that this will not impact on drone defence. They have failed to recognise the human factor.
The drone taxi
It is inevitable, that human transport will eventually become automated. It is even possible, that it will happen in the Sky long before it happens on the roads. Policing the roads is hard enough, imagine the complexity of policing the Sky. Safety regulations would almost certainly require that there is a manual override within a passenger carrying drone. Drone taxis bring with them a whole lot of new unknowns.
Drones and computer hacking
All computers are hackable. The number of prosecutions of the young and curious that have managed to hack into high secure government computers, has grown over recent years. This means that we have all the more reason to be concerned over the possibilities of hacks into remote controlled passenger drones. The general public will be enjoying the novelty, whilst security professionals will be angsting over the safety issues. Since 9/11 terrorist threats have become far more diversified. Vehicles running over groups of people or random acid attacks have become more commonplace. No doubt a good hacker may override a remote controlled passenger drone.
Drone safety is simply unlike any vehicle safety that has come before. The risks are higher and security implications far more widespread. Its not so simple to think that drone jamming will be effective. The cost to human life is not the kind of collateral that anyone is willing to consider. Yet to get into the sky with a drone taxi simply cannot involve the same security procedures as it would to board a passenger airliner. So where do we draw the line?
It is not just the terrorism threat that needs to be considered either. With drone taxis, companies with research and development facilities will not only have to patrol their perimeter fences and front doors. They will have to patrol their airspace too. The risk of intrusion into business premises that are seemingly otherwise secure becomes a far greater issue too. A Drone taxi could land on the roof of a building often providing access to entrances that were previously considered
The questions that are arise are simply too numerous to ignore. Would the passenger drones or drone taxi, be licenced? By whom and to whom? How would it be enforced and would the criteria be? Hot on the heels of drone taxis will be privately owned passenger carrying drones and of course this will lead us into the next obvious evolutionary step. Privately flown passenger carrying drones.
The advent of the drone is developing rapidly from the fun little toy annoyingly buzzing around the heads of the public in a park to an everyday utility, taken for granted. Without the appropriate security considerations, authorities could find themselves steaming headlong into a new quagmire of legal and legislative complications.
Protecting our airspace.
Developments take place quickly and how we are going to protect our airspace is soon going to become a concern even for Joe Average. Passenger carrying drones and a drone taxi for hire even, can place children at risk from abduction from an absent parent, or even make people trafficking that more difficult to track. While drones will soon enough be required to emit an electronic identification signal, how easy will it be to hack those too? In the same way that number plates on vehicles can be stolen, swapped or cloned, what are the crime risks that manned drones will bring.
And of course the big question. Will the term drone become redefined to include those that are ultimately piloted and become the cars of the sky? We are so close to flying vehicles that future has arrived. And we haven’t even started to comprehend how this will impact on our privacy, personal safety and national security. Regardless of where in the world we may fond ourselves.