The Drone Wars: Which Side Are You On?

Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,

As drone usage expands and drone applications continue to improve, the question that inevitably comes up is should you buy one?

Make no bones about it, drones are an incredible defense tool. Thanks to their speed, size, maneuverability and applied technologies, drones have successfully executed critical missions all over the world.

But drones can also be extremely useful on a smaller scale — for security purposes, for example. And believe it or not, most drones are so simple to pilot a kid could stop crime with one.

If It Weren’t for That Meddling Kid

One day while on vacation with his family, 14-year-old Chris Harris and his friend Nick Garlock were playing on the beach when they heard the sound of the Harris’ uncle’s boat starting up. They looked toward the boat and saw two unknown people tying the Zodiac to another boat to tow it away.

As the criminals took off in the two boats, Nick called 911 while Chris launched his drone and sent it after them. He followed the stolen boat with his drone until it reached maximum operating distance, from which he could see the two boats were headed straight for Whidbey Island.

Local police met the suspects (a husband and wife) when they landed and took the couple into custody. Clearly, credit for this crafty capture belongs to these quick-thinking high school freshmen. Well done, fellas.

Now that you’ve seen how effective a drone can be, maybe you’re thinking about buying one. If you’re still on the fence, here are some of the reasons to look into a drone for home security:

Perimeter Checks — Let’s say you’re sound asleep when you hear an unfamiliar noise outside your home. How can you safely check the perimeter of your home? Well, a drone enables you to stay inside while you send your flying sentry to check your property for threats. This way you don’t expose yourself to any potential danger.

Regular Patrols — Some manufacturers have started to integrate drones into home security systems. Sunflower Labs designed a system that uses smart lights and sensors to monitor your home. When one of the sensors is activated, it summons the drone, which captures live video of the potential threat and streams it to an app on your smartphone.

Advanced Surveillance — Now, what if you’re bugging out because of a natural disaster or some other emergency? This is an instance in which it is crucial for you to know whether or not your planned escape route is safe and secure. Before fleeing, you could launch your drone to check local roads and make sure the way is clear. Keep in mind that in some cases (wildfire, hurricane, tornado, etc.), you may not be able to safely operate a drone. You can, however, use a drone to assess damage to your property after a natural disaster.

Clearly, drones have some valuable applications when it comes to home security by keeping you from directly getting involved in a potentially deadly situation. But there are a few disadvantages you should be aware of before investing in a drone:

Weather — As I mentioned, you can’t fly a drone in bad weather. And depending on the drone, even a little bit of wind can make it impossible to operate. In fact, where I live in southern Utah, storms come over the mountains and hit us pretty quickly, affecting drone operators. Even if the weather appears calm, it can change in an instant, making your drone worthless.

Battery Life — Most cost-effective drones don’t have a long battery life. You may only be able to keep your drone in the air for 30 minutes to an hour, which limits the functionality.

Regulations — As drones become more popular in civilian circles, we will see more laws regulating what you can and can’t do with them. For example, in the event of a natural disaster, a nasty accident or some other emergency, you should be careful using a drone in case rescue aircraft are operating nearby.

Without question, drones can be a great addition to your home security, because they can do things that other gadgets (and people) can’t. However, as you can see, they do come with drawbacks.

Drones can also be pretty expensive, and they require regular charging. In a survival situation, you will most likely be without power, so your drone might not be very useful if you don’t have an alternative way to charge it.

Stay safe,

Jason Hanson

Jason Hanson

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