An Unmanned Ariel Vehicle (UAV) or Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) or commonly known as drones, is an aircraft without a pilot aboard, i.e. these are such types of aircraft which are either controlled by a pilot on the ground or in by any other vehicle with the help of some remote control or are controlled autonomously by onboard computers (lawson, 2015). Drones initially were used only for military purposes but with the technology progressing, the types of drones available are endless and even their domains of applications have expanded from military uses drones to commercial and personal uses. In the recent instance, the world witnessed the humanitarian role played by the drones in the aftermath of Nepal’s earthquake. Drones equipped with cameras were seen buzzing over the rubble flying over the mountains which were blocked by the landslides (BBC News, 2015). Their goal was to provide real-time images and data to the emergency crews and relief workers to assist them in locating the injured and trapped, and make a record of the damage being done to the far-flung buildings and bridges. The use of drones has been quickly adopted by the television and film industry, for sports broadcasting, for surveying agricultural land and crops.
The potential of drones cannot be denied, however, the point of concern and key discussion is around safety, security, and surveillance which can undoubtedly pose significant risks of this nascent technology (Stone, Ceniceros & Solutions, 2014). This drone technology is becoming more and more accessible, available at many affordable rates, can be adopted easily, and is available in numerous shapes and sizes ranging from a hobby version that can fit on your palms, to manned aircraft sizes. Thus it is being used for recording interesting videos, the entertainment industry, and also for live news and events which is telecasted to viewers across channels. Then, the use of Even moderately priced drones is capable of carrying high-definition video cameras that can provide feeds and data which is also used for business purposes like construction, etc (Coverdrone, 2015). This versatility and utility of the drones are great but the other side of the coin is that it is a threat to law enforcement as well by giving easy access to the criminals to carry on their nefarious endeavors. These unmanned aircraft are difficult to detect and stop. In an incident in Mexico, the Police of Tijuana found crashed DJI drone which seemed to be carrying drugs. Even stories were aired that drug cartels are using drones for the illegal transfer of drugs at the US and Mexico border. The other incidents which came to light were where drones were being used to get illegal items like drugs and other contraband items into the prisons in Russia, Australia, and the US (Mead and Fischer, 2005). Such reported incidents pose a question to the law enforcement think tanks, that if drones can be used to break into such high-security areas what other criminal uses could be developed from this advanced technology. Invasion of privacy i.e. constant surveilling is one of the concerns raised from the use of drones (Clothier, et. al., 2015). Since drones are capable of carrying high-power zoom lenses, see-through imaging, and night vision, it is making people uncomfortable since their privacy rights are being violated. One of the most high-profile cases which shook the public authorities around the world was when news stories flashed up telling that Secret Service Agents found a crashed drone in the lawns of the White House on January 26, 2015. Though no causality was reported and even the owner of the drone Shawn Usman was left uncharged since he had no intentions of harming the President or creating any kind of chaos, and above all, during an accident, the drone was not under his control, but this incident indicates the vulnerability to potential damage which might have taken place even at the most secured place in the world (Springer, 2013). Most of the civilians or the personal owners of drones rely on the unencrypted data links, i.e. those data links which are secured for command, control, and navigational purposes and assistance. The use of such unencrypted data links makes the drone vulnerable to a range of cyber attacks and it makes it easy just like a cakewalk for the anti-social or the hostile cartels to hack such drones. The unencrypted data used by the civilians are much prone to a jamming, interception, and being manipulated. Jamming equipment which is able to block the navigation signals from satellites on which the drones rely and equipment that is capable of creating false signals, are available at cheap rates and can be easily afforded by such a thriving community of drone hackers (Redmond, 2013). Another incident that drew the attention of public authorities demonstrating that frequent manhandling of drones can be fatal goes like this. A Parrot AR drone crashed just in front of German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Christian Democratic Party Campaign, though the drone was being used specifically for the surveillance purpose on the orders of the government, though no one was harmed it raises concerns that had the drone was laced with weapons, no wonder it could have led to disaster.
The big question with not enough answers is the problem as brought into light by Tom Karol general counsel for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC), that with an upsurge of this latest technology things have to be made more clear regarding how people will be using it and on what grounds will insurance be allowed and what specifically had to be left out. Drone Insurance Coverage issues are one of the results of technology marching at such a breakneck pace. Myriad complex insurance coverage issues which are further complicated by the operational, procedural, and technological changes, it is therefore becoming difficult for the industries to keep pace with the rapid increase of drones. The British Airline Pilots Association has expressed their deep concerns about the possibility of large commercial drones flying alongside passenger aircraft which could lead to fatal accidents.
There have been raising concerns that soon the skies will be crowded with thousands of drones some may be armed with even the highest definition sensitive cameras. As expected if the number of drones in the skies increases, it will, in turn, increase the number of accidents and injuries and as a result possibility of potential lawsuits will follow. In an incident reported by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) an MCG drone crashed during the Cricket World Cup –Final between Australia and New Zealand, the drone was supposed to film the match, the reason for such accident was the continuous interference from a radio frequency traffic for outside broadcasting and mobile phone usage at the stadium resulted in such an accident, though no injuries were reported. The people still are unaware of the myriad concerns of this jet setting but rather unregulated technology (Warrior, 2015). There are a few risks that can be outlined easily regarding the insurance of such drones and unmanned aircraft.
Standard Aviation Risks are those risks to which drones are mostly exposed. These are the most basic risks. Since the holder of the drone will be keen to ensure his drone from any case of accidents and provide cover to all the possible liabilities.
Negligent Pilots i.e. “human factor” another key point for the insurers to worry about because there are chances that pilots on the ground might be unaware of what’s going on the far above in the sky and risks associated with it, so insurers have to have high retention unless the pilots prove not to be reckless but rather demonstrate responsible and safe behavior.
One instance grew the concerns regarding personal use of drones when a personal drone was being noticed to have been in the vicinity of a news helicopter that was covering a streamlined fire accident in Washington (Marzocchi, n.d). It is being said that Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has recorded almost 25 such cases where drones have been seen around manned aircraft. Another incident that raises questions is the case reported in July 2014 when a drone had a narrow escape in colliding with an Airbus A320 which was taking off and was about 700 feet above the ground. The man-made machines are even creating hindrances for nature an ultimate case where Dutchman lost his control over his drone and crashed it in the Grand Prismatic Spring, one of the famous hot springs at Yellowstone National Park, though the park rangers were concerned that the drowned drone might hurt the spring (Enemark, 2013). Drones used for the commercial context present their share of risks and rewards that very soon will become much clearer to everyone at ground level. For businesses that look forward to reaping the potential benefits, it might be prudent and intelligent on their part to pause on the launch pad and vigilantly conduct a due diligence review of drone risks.
We will cover the technological measures which can help in the effective regulation of laws to create confidence in the emerging technology in this section (Nagelhout, 2013). Since the rapid expansion of drone ownerships and operations has posed a significant challenge in front of the regulators. Proper tracking and monitoring technology shall be incorporated as one of the most important and integral parts of the platform designs which will prove to be an effective measure to gather and collect sufficient evidence of transgressions. “Geo-Fencing” technology can also be implanted in the drones which will help in reducing the risks of drones straying outside the defined domain or barging into restricted and controlled airspace (Nagelhout, 2013). The US’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has also proposed some measures and regulations to mitigate the risks evolving from the use of drones, like, no careless or reckless operations of drones will be tolerated, no operations of drones above 18000ft & above in the airspace i.e. Class A level shall be permitted, preflight inspection shall be thoroughly done by the operator, unmanned aircraft or the drone shall not be more than 25kgs (55lbs), the maximum altitude of 500 feet from the ground level shall be permitted, a person shall not be allowed to operate a small unmanned aircraft or drone if the operator believes or knows, or has the reasons to know that the mental or physical conditions are not conducive enough to operate that small unmanned aircraft safely (Shultz, 2015). Also, the operator shall be of at least 17 years of age and has to clear an initial aeronautical knowledge test at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and have to obtain a certificate of being an unmanned aircraft operator and can be asked to present any legal documents or records regarding the drone any time (Marzocchi, n.d.). Even unmanned aircraft or drones can be asked to be presented for testing and administration purposes (North, 2014). The operator must report any accident or injury which resulted from the operation of the drone within 10 days of the accident to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and last but not least, the owner has to pass the recurrent aeronautical test every 24 months. Canada’s Civil aviation authority has posed much stringent insurance terms which will forbid less professional pilots to take their drones higher in the sky, the unusual requirement that professional drone operators obtain $100000as in liability insurance irrespective of the size of the drones.
However it will be advisable to keep a watch and play safe until the insurance industry and the law regulators figure out something fair enough both for the service and business operators which operate their drones themselves (Shultz, 2015). Thousands and thousands of drones covering the skies and a continuous expectation by the insurance industry for such regulation which doesn’t leave them scrambling to figure out how fairly and effective drones of commercial and personal users from the emerging risks of markets which is barely offering any meaningful and sufficient data and risks metrics. Insurers certainly wouldn’t want to cover an intentionally illegal activity because it can be expected that some drone operators may not be innocent enough and carry some nefarious intentions (Heatherly, 2014). Drones are expected to have a camera attached which could be used for voyeurism, harassment, stalking, and blackmail or to violate laws and chances are that, that the relationship between insured and the other is adversarial.
As technology is advancing at an ever-increasing rate so from the outcomes, it is obvious that we as an individual find it difficult to acknowledge the new potential, safety, and liability concerns that are raised from this jet setting technology (Greek, Linden. van. and Berkleef, 2014). Undoubtedly drone is emerging technology though novel but also carries the weight of its share of controversies (Heatherly, 2014). Robust regulatory frameworks are required to manage and handle drone operations, along with stringent laws. Enforcement, clarity, licensing, and harmonizing the regulatory framework of drone operations are required to make provisions for sufficient jurisdiction (Enemark, 2013) Safety has to top the list on a priority basis since the technology is maturing therefore the operator’s sincerity and competence should be the determining factor regarding the safety of the public. Security risks i.e. measures should be taken to reduce the infringement of privacy through cyber attacks (Takahashi, T. (n.d). Drones today have the potential to expand and create a potential market in the near future which can undoubtedly give rise to frequent exposure to complex risks therefore the manufacturers, operators and the law regulators must increase work together so that this progressively expanding technology can be used more safely and responsibly for creating a better future (Salter, 2014).
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