Drones as Weapons?

And other ways Drones may prove more useful…

Ways people are using drones

According to Shankland (2014), the usage of drones as an inexpensive monitoring system and many are using drones in different ways:


Real estate agencies, insurance agents, and other businesses can capture aerial photos and monitor properties.


Oil companies can easily inspect miles of pipelines.


Farmers and ranchers can quickly check fields, livestock, monitor, and spraying crops without doing a visual survey.

Virtual mobility

Drones can give those with physical limitations a new kind of mobility. For example, individuals with paralysis resulting in partial or total loss of mobility may use a remote controlled drone to explore their environment and move throughout the world by operating an Oculus Rift reality headset.

However, while drones have the potential to provide great benefits, governments have used drones in military programs and raids, raising the UN’s concern for the use of Drones as weapons. A summary of a year long report conducted by UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Ben Emmerson reports that the UN “set-up a panel of experts to discuss and report on the legal issues raised by the use of drones for targeted killings.”
According to a different report by Jennifer Gibson, a staff attorney at Reprive, US drones have killed 28 civilians for each intended target and that during a military mission, the CIA unintentionally killed 76 children and 29 adults and while failing to kill their main target, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zwahiri. Jennifer Gibson also shared that due to the covert nature of the US drone program, her findings are based on news reporting and gathering of public record information.

Drones as a Weapon

With the emergence of UAVs/UAS, aka drones over the past few years, expert believe they will transform the nature of war, surveillance, and security. Currently, the U.S. is using drones to monitor al Qaeda, Islamist radicals, and militant personnel in the Middle East. The drones provide the convenience of providing video feed for up to 22 hours or more and carrying out missions without the risk of losing military personnel. Many drones are operated by two individuals: one pilots the drone and the other operates the sensors and equipment. The U.S. believe drones are the answer to battling terrorism; however, there is the risk of civilian casualties.

Drones as a replacement for “boots on the ground”?

Guards as Drone Pilots. In recent years, drone usage within the U.S. military has increased. One can make the conclusion that drones might be a replacement for “boots on the ground” security. Meaning, instead of having security guards patrolling and monitoring the environment—it would be a drone. The guard would no longer be the active participant in security but be sitting in a room controlling the drone. However, there are restrictions to this observation:

  1. FAA and some states have strict regulations on drone uses.
  2. The military are the only ones allowed to use the drones for tactical purposes.
  3. U.S. airspace is closed to commercial drones, which includes private security. Conclusion? As of right now, guards will not be drone pilots and drones will not replace guards on the ground due to regulations. Our prediction: within the next decade as FAA releases and revise guidelines concerning commercial drones, the reality might change how security is conducted.


Figure 1:

[Golfer], [Online Image]. (2013). Retrieved January 16, 2015 from 4ever.eu. http://bilder.4ever.eu/sport/golf-179659

Figure 2:

[Inspection drone] [Online Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved January 16, 2015 from AR: Airborne Robotics. http://www.airborne-robotics.com/en/application/inspection-and-maintenance

Figure 3:

Drone vs. cow [Online Image]. (2014). Flicker/Lima Pix. Retrieved January 16, 2015 from Government Technology. http://www.govtech.com/public-safety/Editorial-Real-Hunters-Dont-Drone.html

Figure 4:

Controlling an AR.Drone with thoughts alone [Online Image]. (2014). Retrieved January 16, 2015 from PopSci: Popular Science. http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2012-08/video-controlling-drone-nothing-thoughts

Figure 6:

A tiny Black Hornet Nano unmanned air vehicle (UAV), is launched from a compound in Afghanistan [Online Image]. (2013). Reuters. Retrieved January 16, 2015 from The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2013/feb/12/450-british-military-drones-lost

Disclaimer: Images provided in this blog and/or blog post(s) are used to provide a visual identification of the subject(s) and/or illustrate the subject in question in the article. The article is meant to be an informative commentary on the subjects. The images are copyrighted or assumed to be copyrighted to their respective artist, institutions, and/or legal copyright holders.

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