I tweeted with Randall Munroe’s XKCD
Steve Crandall (who you may know better as @tingilinde ) writes in:
Actually Randall may not be far off in this one. The definition of air rights was left poorly defined by the Supreme Court in the 40s and FAA rules, whatever form they take, won’t be universal remedies.
I sometimes sit on my town’s technology board – most recently during the last cable tv license renewal and when there was a chance for a fiber overbuild. We have quite a few ex Bell Labs types in town who show \ interest in society and technology issues so I threw the match into the kindling by convening a township drone policy committee in the wake of Amazon’s announcement.
It turns out there was a lot of interest. People started talking about various restrictions to make the town safe from photography, crashes, and other real and imagined nuisances. One of the proposals was allowing people to define their own air-rights over their territory up to the FAA limits. Any crossing would constitute trespass and they would be allow to impound the drone and require a release fee. Most felt the drones would have to fly over the street, there would have to be proof that video from the drone was not recorded, some level of quiet would be required, and the drone would not be autonomous – a FAA licensed pilot would be required for each flight with no multi-tasking. Speed limits, weight limits, noise limits and an insurance requirement. I stress this was a very tech savvy group.
Some communities in the West have passed ordinances that allow people to shoot them down and one offers a bounty. Ag-gag laws in many states would prevent the operation of drones in rural areas.
It may well be a mess until uniform code exists. That took a few decades for commercial aviation. I can’t see it taking much less than a decade this time around, but who knows…
People saw a need for regulation and invented their own. I think there is the potential for an explosion of questions until air rights are firmly settled. The noise issue was very contentious
So maybe drones will have to travel over public rights-of-way at below some height limit. Does this decrease safety (more likely to crash if confined to crowded drone lanes, more likely to fall on cars)?