Problematic UAVs: These Are Some of the Ways People Are Misusing Drones

The drone industry is booming right now. How many YouTube videos do you come across on a daily basis that was shot on a UAV? Or, maybe you have seen a few drones, after the holidays flying around your neighborhood?

Drone technology looks like it is here to stay, however, properly understanding the impact of drones, as well as, the pros and cons of having these UAVs in our skies, is a hotly debated subject that is moving to the forefront of culture in 2019.

The Future of Drones

Just in the United States alone, there were 1.1 million drones throughout the country; a figure that included hobbyists as well as the drones in the commercial industry. The number is expected to double and reach as high a 2 million by the end of 2019. While there are an estimated 3 million drones around the world.

The drone industry itself is estimated to reach a staggering $82.1 billion in annual revenue by 2025. Though drone technology has served humanity for the better, even saving 133 lives around the world, drones can be equally misused and potentially highly destructive.

Understanding how drones can be misused and their potential threats to communities and cities will play an important role in how the UAV technology will be regulated.

Commercial Planes and Drones Do Not Mix

Problematic UAVs: These Are Some of the Ways People Are Misusing Drones
Source: Dayton University 

Just this past Christmas, major United Kingdom airports struggled with rogue drones, disrupting air travel for thousands of people. These are not isolated incidents, and in fact are becoming a worrisome problem for western governments. Some airports across the globe experience as much as 19-21 drone disruptions a month forcing local security to take defensive measures.

Drones and airplanes do not mix well. If a drone were to collide with a commercial plane or even fly into one of the engines of the dual plane, the results could be disastrous, putting passengers in jeopardy.

In a study conducted by the University of Dayton, the research team launched a 2.1-pound DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter at the wing of a Mooney M20 aircraft. The test confirmed how destructive a drone can be to the exterior of a plane.


One of the first concerns on people’s minds when drones entered the middle market centered around privacy. Most drones that can be purchased now are equipped with an HD camera. There is not much stopping your neighbor from flying a camera over to watch you sunbathe or even creepily take shots of you at night.

Not even celebrities are safe, as paparazzi agencies even use drones to spy on the rich and famous. Fortunately, there is a lot of new technology out there that can help you identify a drone what may be spying on you and even catch it if the problem persists.

Destroying Property

Drones being misused to deface property is a growing trend and could become a greater issue as drone technology improves. Though it is not the biggest threat to local communities, defacing public property with a drone can be an annoying nuisance.

Problematic UAVs: These Are Some of the Ways People Are Misusing Drones
Source: The Street Museum Art

American, street artist KATSU put this into practice when he attached a spray can to a DJI Phantom drone and spray painted over a Calvin Klein advertisement a few years back.

Injuring People

Drones can be very dangerous for both users and the surrounding people. UAVs on the market can travel as fast as 100kph, and sometimes even faster. Not to mention controlling a drone can be very tricky and controllers can be finicky.

Losing control of a drone can be easy and that is problematic. From the high-speed propellers to the velocity, a drone can do a lot of damage to a body.

Drones have crashed into public monuments like Seattle’s Space Needle injuring three workers, while in other examples like the Australian triathlete incident, rogue drones have soared directly into crowds, badly injuring bystanders.

To combat this some regulators have recommended making it mandatory to school the drone users.

Weaponized Drones

One of the more obvious issues with drones centers around weaponizing them, and is a serious concern for cities around the world.

Though there are not any documented cases of people using drones with explosives yet, there have been cases of drones carrying dangerous or even radiative payloadsfor malicious purposes.

Most UAVs are very hard to detect because of their relatively small size. There was even a case in the United States, in which a suspicious, undetectable drone crashed on the White House lawn.

Smuggling Drugs

Drug lords getting more creative and tech-friendly. Some dealers have utilized some drones to transport drugs across borders. In one documented incident in the United States, a dealer tried to transport as much as 2.5 kilos worth of crystal meth.

Drones are emerging as the latest technological gadget used by cartels and smugglers in trying to outfox border authorities.

Prison Contraband

Problematic UAVs: These Are Some of the Ways People Are Misusing Drones
Source: Pixabay

Getting contraband into prisons is no easy feat. Inmates have come up with countless creative ways to smuggle products and drugs into their prison cells.

As of now, there have been multiple cases of drones being used to smuggle weapons, drugs, cell phones, and even food into prisons.

The Future of Drones

Whether you are a hobbyist or start-up, using your drone properly and responsibly is crucial to the safety to the communities around you.

With new drone legislation on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how new limiting laws will affect the emerging commercial drone industry and the new and interesting technology that is sure to follow.

Source: Interesting Engineering