I don’t know when remote control helicopters became drones, but I think its way past time we stop implying that a fancy RC helicopter with a camera strapped to it is some sort of autonomous Terminator robot. There is also the brand spankin’ new DJI Phantom 2 Vision Quadcopter Drone with integrated first person view (FPV) camera and GPS flight mode. Now, we’re talking about regulations, restrictions, licensing and insurance for what is still just a small remote control helicopter.
Taking photos and video from remote control vehicles is nothing new – but its only recently that there have been enough of them flying around and crashing into things that they have attracted mainstream attention. The last thing we need as an industry (or society in general) is regulation of what should be common sense – especially when there are already existing regulations that are perfectly capable. Call me a crazy conspiracy theorist, but the only time I see regulations on commercial aerial photography actually being enforced is when governments or corporations that fund governments have something to hide.
You know, like when National Geographic photographer George Steinmetz was arrested to taking aerial photographs of a feedlot in Kansas.
To me privacy from being photographed from the air by a drone is not really a legitimate concern. Anything a drone with a camera can see from the air, you can already see right now from Google Earth, from conventional aircraft with a telephoto lens, or from the ground. The only difference is that a drone can provide a unique perspective – and this is especially true for video. Of course, flying a drone over something interesting is a lot easier and cheaper than finding a nearby hot air balloon – so the frequency of photographing or filming something worth seeing from the air is drastically increasing. This has led to some recent minor conflict as both the general public and autority figures adjust to the possibility of being photographed from the air – not unlike the adjustment to being photographed and filmed by anyone with a cell phone which is currently ongoing. But, if we are going to regulate drone aerial photography and video due to privacy, lets include conventional aerial photography and satellite imaging as well. Safety is of course a legitimate concern – nobody wants a flying hunk of plastic to drop on their head. But realistically, there are a whole lot of other flying things that are way more dangerous than remote control helicopters that are completely unregulated. Again, the point is that safety concerns over collisions with remote control helicopters with cameras on them are (for the time being anyway) statistically insignificant. Nobody wants to be harassed by a giant buzzing mosquito – especially if you are trying to enjoy some peace and quiet at a National Park or other wilderness area. Entitlement to peace and quiet (among other reasons) is what led the US National Park Service (NPS) to recently ban Drones from Yosemite National Park. Drones impact the wilderness experience for other visitors creating an environment that is not conducive to wilderness travel. Since the operation of remote control drone aircraft for the purpose of taking photos and recording video is still legally a little ambiguous, I propose a voluntary code of conduct for drone photography. But, since rules control the fun, here are a few suggestions for the safe operation of remote control model aircraft from the Academy of Model Aeronautics – AMA Model Aircraft Safety Code. Do not fly higher than approximately 400 feet above ground level within three (3) miles of an airport without notifying the airport operator. Avoid flying directly over unprotected people, vessels, vehicles or structures (that might prove a challenge to anyone except landscape photographers). Is aerial drone photography or aerial drone video, for either recreational purposes or commercial use an actual issue – or just the latest media frenzy fueled by an irrational fear of drones?
Do you fly a drone?  Have you had any issues with overzealous authority figures or disgruntled by-standards? Should remote control aircraft be more heavily regulated – or just remote control aircraft with cameras?


To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. As long as we can call them Annoying, unregulated and intrusive RC helicopters with a camera. People are still exploring applications and the technology is already changing the commercial photography and videography market. I hope the authorities regulate the (s)ugar (h)oney (i)ced (t)ea out of the use of these so called drones.
Whatever a man can imagine and create, a crowd will find it annoying, dangerous or immoral!
I read a comment that honest to god blamed Obama for consumer drones violating our privacy.
I think we can both cite many laws and regulations that work well, especially laws regarding the way people can use technology. Comparing golf balls to RC helicopters… OK, do you think that playing golf in front of a rock festival stage is OK? Can a satellite or a full scale helicopter with a photographer take a photo through anyone’s bedroom window? Also, since the new RC vehicles are so easy to fly, a lot of people don’t seek out organizations like the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).
I don’t think they even use photographers for the digital camera systems in combat drones.
I actually wish that I would have had my DJI Phantom quadcopter with the GoPro in my Navy days. I would submit that those who fly drones for more devious and sinister purposes should not be considered hobbyists, and give those of us who truly love the past time a bad rap. I think during the war in the Middle East when drones were being used by the military, psychologically that is what people associate the word drone with and it makes it tough on us people who enjoy flying their quadcopters.
I have heard they are called drones because they are an unmanned aerial vehicle and can be set on a pre-course to fly. RC planes and helicopters are unmanned aerial vehicles and besides when I bought my quadcopter that is what it was called when I ordered it, that is what it said on the box when I received it and when I set a pre-course for it to fly it is called waypoints. The government will get involved anytime they feel they can make money or control the population.
I was under the impression that an aircraft needed the ability to autonomously return to home to qualify for the drone label…am I mistaken? The issue of quadcopters being called drones is one that sometimes bothers me because it demonstrates that the general public do not know the difference and are being lead down the road of thinking they are correct to think every RC multirotor is a drone. There are some RC vehicles that can be called drones because if their automation and ability to use AI to make decisions but most of the time the RC copter or flyer you buy at your local department or hobby store is not a drone in the true sense if any at all. Stefan Kohler is a conceptual photographer, specialized in mixing science, technology and photography. When he isn't waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. Copyright © 2012 Autos Weblog, All trademarks are the property of the respective trademark owners. This homemade electronic speed controller (ESC) can be used in a radio controlled electric car, boat, or airplane.
It is made by using an old servo, plus a couple of simple and easy-to-get electronic components. It's a fun project because you get to recycle an unused servo, and possibly save a few bucks.


Drone 3.0 or Bebop (a name sure to confuse fans of the Ninja Turtles) that comes loaded with a 12 megapixel fisheye camera, and a two kilometer range with first person view flight! No one can see in my back window unless they fly a drone in my back yard, or physically break in.
That’s exactly the reason we are now hearing cries for government regulation, and we all know how well that works, right?
Well, maybe some bedroom windows are possibly to give access to a spying telephoto lens from a helicopter, but I can hardly believe that no one notices a hovering heli in front of the house. Its part of the voluntary AMA flight rules that you automatically consent to when flying any unmanned aerial vehicle controlled by radio. Now all of a sudden, they are drones and everybody is concerned that I’m going to violate their privacy or violate National Security.
Members of the AMA have to follow a code of conduct and carry $2.5 million in liability insurance. If we just call them radio control airplanes or radio control helicopters, people will stop freaking out.
The video display is only ~5% of the complete picture in regard to revealing other aircraft in the area.
I see it more of a marketing word that has been stamped on the label of quadcopters because it is easily recognizable to the general public which is a shame. The privacy issue regarding flying cameras is something that has many conflicting views within me.
I read a recent article about videographer’s from a news agency being fired in favour of drones.
There are several (confirmed) reports of people hovering their camera-laden drones right outside someone’s home and hotel windows. Any such drones found where they are unwanted (again, made noticeable from proper manufacturing) have the right to be destroyed by the property owner if possible and the operator should be open to prosecution. But they do in fact provide the means to prosecute someone who violates what others see as a right (privacy in this case).
And any breakage of those rules can land you in trouble with the federal government and you can possible end up in federal prison. When you’re getting into real RC Jets (not ducted fans), the engines alone can be about $7,500.
Would have been a lot cheaper than manning up a full size helicopter or taking out one of the ship’s utility boats. They’re people that really do want to have fun, enjoy their hobby and meet others who share the same passion. When they do someday get very quiet when you can’t hear them coming anymore, then they will prove useful for legal surveillance, aerial photography and filming without disturbiance. Just sayin, you might want to check out your sources and the authors sources before you make a comment. Too many questions to answer in this area but I will say that if an RC vehicle is being used in any way to spy or conduct surveillance then I would feel this is a privacy violation but if they just fly over the house for fun and happen to have a camera running then this is not really an issue for me. The tricky part is knowing and regulating the difference between a violation and an act to intentionally video somebody unknowingly.



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