In an attempt to get an informed opinion on drones in society, today I had the opportunity to interview Mac Luther, a local drone enthusiast and student at the University of Utah who has been flying and working with drones in the Salt Lake area for over a decade. I asked him about the future of drones and his thoughts on FAA regulation of drones.
Mac Luther: I am a student at the University of Utah. I am also really into drones as my hobby and have been flying them and building them ever since I was twelve. It’s been a really great experience and I have gotten a lot of joy out of it over the years.
Robert: That’s great. So how did you get started with drones as a kid?
Mac Luther: Well, I really got into it when my father bought me just a small remote controlled helicopter for a birthday. Just the fun I had flying that around really got me hooked and over the years I have turned it into a real hobby, buying and building the drones and flying them in different areas. It’s been really fun and exciting to see how drones have developed and the increased interest from people in what I do for fun.
Robert: As a drone enthusiast, do you have any opinions on how the FAA has been handling drone regulation whether positive or negative?
Mac Luther: Well, I am not as informed as I would like to be on the subject but as far as I am concerned the FAA has been really messing up the whole thing. It’s hard for people who want to use drones to have so much ambiguity about what exactly is allowed and what isn’t especially since many of the rules that I have witnessed them actually put out there I have found to either be absurd or over restrictive of hobbyists like myself.
Robert: What kind of regulations would you like to see then on drones in areas like industry, research, and personal hobby users?
Mac Luther: Well, I do think that there is an obvious need for government regulation of drones within all these areas. However, I think whoever is in charge of it needs to have a real open discussion about all the risks and benefits and come out with some comprehensive rules that would allow drone use to really kick off in all these areas. There are so many different uses for drones and I think that they have been really hampered by the regulations or lack of regulations so far.
Robert: How do you think the military’s use of drones has affected public opinion and knowledge of drones?
Mac Luther: Well, that’s an interesting question. For one, the military’s use of drones has really brought the term and what can be done with drones into the public perspective in a really big way. However, I think that this has largely all been negative attention. The media has really mostly just been concentrating on the drone strikes and how many deaths this has caused overseas. However, there has been very little concentration of positive aspects of drones such as for recreation or doing research or the other possible uses for them in so many different ways. I think that is what the media should be concentrating on an then people will as well and might better understand drones’ potential.
Robert: In what ways do you think that drones could revolutionize or innovate things like commercial use and research?
Mac Luther: Well, it’s hard to not be excited about all the potential uses for drones in all these different fields. I think the use of drones could be incredibly beneficial in a variety of things both in industries like filming movies and TV shows, but also in doing research like mapping areas and monitoring pollution levels. It’s hard for me to know all the different ways that drones could be a useful tool; that is how much potential they have.
Robert: Lastly, what might be the possible near future of drones in everyday life do you think? Do you think drones will be more widely used soon for a variety of things?
Mac Luther: I think that drones will naturally gain a larger role in life. I think the extent of this will largely depend upon the FAA’s regulations and what exactly drones are allowed to do but I think in one way or another they will gain a larger role. I don’t think we will any time soon see them become everyday technology used by everyone. But, I think that as they are noted for different uses they will be used more and more.