First the World Cup, Now Drones Cause Trouble For the Tour de France

An eager fan wanting to see a bit of World Cup action caused controversy with Team France–and now the Tour de France is plagued by its own drone troubles.

Peloton Magazine, sent this Tweet showing a drone filming the cars carrying bikes to the start of the Tour de France race in England.

One of its followers remarked that he hoped the drones had UKCAA approval.

The UK CAA confirmed that the drone was not approved for this use–and that it was a hazard to the safety of low-flying helicopters trying to film the start of the race by official means.

Because drones are relatively inexpensive and easy to acquire, one can imagine that this type of trouble will grow exponentially soon at popular public venues like concerts and sporting events.

There really are two issues here for the UAV community, the regulators, and modern society to contend with.  First, of course, is the entirely legitimate concern about aviation safety.  The second is the conflict over broadcast rights.

The regulatory authorities have denied requests by the media to use drones to cover news and live events because of the risk to other aircraft–and the potential nightmare of a number of news drones colliding with each other in limited airspace, competing to capture the best images of whatever is news that day.

But, denying this of formal news organisations does nothing to prevent individuals from buying their own and doing the very same thing.  Policing for this is its own headache–how can authorities guess where the next random drone will appear?

News organisations are likely to push for heavier enforcement, if people are able to do what they cannot–but they too will be unable to do anything much about it because enforcing regulations on use of these devices is complex and would require resources the authorities just do not have.

How will this play out?  

I’m tempted to think that the only way to stem a proliferation of illegal drones is to regulate the acquisition of the devices–cutting-off supply at the source.  But is that likely to happen?

Share your thoughts–are UAVs a menace or simply a new reality we need to get to grips with?  How can we best manage the race of the drones?

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