Today I would like to discuss the contentious issue of Remotely Piloted Aircraft or RPAs, more commonly known as ‘drones’. The issue is, whether the benefits of operating Remotely Piloted Aircraft to ensure public safety outweigh the costs to public privacy. Some pundits suggest that drones are invasive and endanger privacy. Others maintain that the new technology is instrumental to ensure our safety and preserve our standard of living. I also contend that RPAs must be actively promoted in Australia as the beneficial uses of the rapidly evolving technology far outweigh any supposed disadvantages.
There is no doubt, new technology offers a range of exciting possibilities. In a country with over twenty three million people, Australia’s current known mineral resources are nearing depletion. As Australia’s largest export earner, mining must create new methods to map and unearth these minerals. Drones are the next step forward. Global warming too is a reality and in a country such as ours which is plagued by drought, we need to discover new underground water reservoirs. These reserves can be extremely hard to find due to a lack of research capability and funding. However, with the use of drones, geological mapping of underground minerals and water will become more efficient and cost effective compared to traditional methods. Also, the drones’ ability to safely traverse rugged or dangerous terrain where helicopters are impractical, makes them essential equipment for industry in the 21st Century.
RPAs are also instrumental in safeguarding Australia’s Defence Force personnel. In war-torn countries, ordinary manpower is no longer enough. Innovation and new technology in this sector will win wars and protect our soldiers. Banning drones will have a detrimental effect on our defence forces. Australia’s enemies are now more technologically savvy and are pioneering advancements in guerrilla warfare. We cannot allow our soldiers to risk their lives using antiquated weaponry when new technology can win wars. By using drones for surveillance and reconnaissance, we can significantly reduce the number of soldiers’ lives lost on the battlefield. Military drones can also provide air support to ground troops giving them the edge in combat situations. Onboard cameras and sensors are able to relay live information back to troops which can be critical in saving lives. By banning drones we are risking our soldiers’ lives. Do we want to be responsible for unnecessary risks soldiers must take to complete missions? Or do we want to see our loved ones return home safely from war?
In a recent Age, article the Australian Federal Police (AFP) trialled RPAs for search and rescue operations. Drones are now deemed the answer in locations where helicopters are impractical or inefficient. The AFP, and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, have begun trialling different models for search and rescue missions. There is no doubt that RPAs will form an invaluable part of future operations.
A minority of the public have expressed concern over the use of RPAs and want strict legislation enacted to safeguard public privacy. They fear the Orwellian “Big Brother” is watching nature of the technology. But, we must ask ourselves, what is more important: Do we want to live in a country where we must constantly worry about our security and the safety of your loved ones? Or do we want to live in a place that