Saturday, January 22, 2022

Jaywalking drones

More stepping back in time to look for regulatory precedence.

Consider the CUAS (Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems) they often push frightening narratives to affect airspace change and system integrations that only serve to enrich shareholders.

Gatwick, despite no evidence to support any drone being on the scene, continues to be fodder for Governmental committees all over the world.

There are many people only too happy to sell the promise of a solution that will make the representative or member of parliament look proactive and strong. No need to really show how the system works. Big antennas and guarded red switches are always good, best have some flashing lights as well. Tell everyone it’s secret, that’s the best cover.

British Telecom in the UK has recently jumped with both feet onto the fear sells bandwagon in order to try and prove there is a place for 5G in a digital sky.

Now pull up a sandbag.

Once upon a time cars had a public perception problem, they really were disliked.

Streets were for pedestrians horses and hand carts. The law was very much on the side of people on foot, most especially children as many of them had been killed by motor cars.

This all came to a head in 1923, when 42,000 Cincinnati residents signed a petition that would require all cars to have a governor limiting them to 25 miles per hour.

A Bluejay is said to be an empty-headed chattering bird from the country, folks from the countryside seeing the city for the first time were known as Jays. The motor industry chose the term popular at the time to change the narrative.

Peter Norton, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia and the author of Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City, the narrative is no accident. His research shows how our view of streets was systematically and deliberately shifted by the automobile industry, as was the law itself.

“If you ask people today what a street is for, they will say cars,” says Norton. “That’s practically the opposite of what they would have said 100 years ago.”

Cincinnati was not going to be allowed to be a thing.

Car manufacturers enlisted boy scouts to hand cards out telling pedestrians how to cross the road. In 1924 600,000 cards were handed out in New York alone.

“We are living in a motor age,” John Hertz of Chicago’s Yellow Cab Company. “And we must have not only motor age education but a motor age sense of responsibility.”

The motor industry signed up to city pedestrian safety campaigns and turned the education message from it is the car drivers fault to the pedestrians. Cars were held up as a clean alternative to horses and the manure they left behind to be cleared up.

The auto industry very much won, and in doing so changed how towns, cities and even housing was designed and built. Everything had to be driven to and jays were kept out of the way of the future, those cars.

This has lead to many unintended consequences. I don’t think anyone can argue that more cars can only be a good thing 100 years later.

The CUAS industry is busy handing out small cards to people in power.

Best we be careful of what they wish for.


Gary Mortimer
Founder and Editor of sUAS News | Gary Mortimer has been a commercial balloon pilot for 25 years and also flies full-size helicopters. Prior to that, he made tea and coffee in air traffic control towers across the UK as a member of the Royal Air Force.