Let’s face it, drones can be pretty awesome.
The neat little gadgets are perhaps best known for recording video or taking photographs of objects and landscapes from angles that would otherwise be impossible. Unfortunately though for the folks in B.C., drones are actually becoming a fairly large nuisance.
The last two years have seen a large spike in the number of drones veering directly into major flight paths over cities like Vancouver and Victoria. According to numbers from Transport Canada, drones had close calls with other aircraft in B.C. at least 11 times in 2014. By 2015, that number had nearly doubled to 21.
Of all those incidents, six were at Vancouver International Airport, six in Vancouver Harbour, seven at Victoria International Airport, five in Victoria Harbour, as well as a few others from smaller airports throughout the province. A drone also got in the way of firefighting efforts in Oliver, B.C. this summer.
Clearly, this problem isn’t going away.
In response to the rise of rogue drones, Transport Canada has actually launched an investigation against 604 Aerial Drone Photography, which featured footage of its camera-wielding gadgets hovering over what could be prohibited airspace on Instagram (their account has since been disabled in case you’re looking).
“This is kind of the equivalent of unicyclists riding on the freeway–you wouldn’t do that,” Discovery Channel Aviation Correspondent Mark Miller said. “It’s just dumb.”
Small objects like drones, by the way, can actually do a surprising amount of damage if they were to collide with a larger plane. Even commercial aircraft are vulnerable. BirdStrike.org reports that since 1988, 250 people have been killed worldwide as a result of an aircraft colliding with a bird in the sky–a bird. One was actually able to cause a plane crash in New York in 2009 (luckily, everyone survived). So you can only imagine the damage a drone could do.
Since this is a worldwide problem, governments around the globe are grappling with possible solutions. But one innovation out of Japan caught our eye. The country has apparently deployed swarms of police drones that literally fly around with giant nets that they cloak over other drones to yank them out of the sky. It’s almost like something out of a cartoon:
Until Canada acquires its own fleet of police drones though, it looks like this might continue to be a growing problem. For more information, check out the video at the top of the article.