Drones, a double edged sword?


Drones, otherwise known as Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS) or Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) are receiving a great deal of press at the moment, near misses with commercial aircrafts through to their potential use in delivering your online purchases. But what are they really being used for?

I wanted to get a better understanding of current drones and their capabilities so I met up with Richard Burnett, Director at AWOL Media Productions. AWOL own and regularly use drones for filming. AWOL have successfully worked on projects for companies including the BBC, the Bear Grylls survival academy and Sky News over the last five years to name a few.

Firstly Richard explains that in order to use drones for filming and commercial gain you are required to be registered and granted Permission For Aerial Work by the CAA. This involves ground training and a practical assessment on each drone type used. Companies are also required to carry specialist insurance and other checks and balances to ensure they fly compliantly at all times.

In addition to using much larger platforms capable of carrying full-sized cinema cameras at long range, AWOL are currently using the DJI MAVIC (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1d_ptE6yrc), an incredibly small device with collision avoidance technology and features such as tripod mode which can hold the drone stable in flight to get quality cinematic imagery. “The drone films in 4K quality, it’s incredibly manoeuvrable and quiet, in fact we could easily fly it inside a property.” At just 83mmx83mmx198mm it’s really compact and will fly for around 30 minutes. “It’s a really good bit of kit and allows us to get some fantastic shots for our customers that previously would have been cost prohibitive, you’d have had to look at hiring a helicopter and cameras. Now there’s also no reason why you couldn’t have an asset in the air constantly for days at a time, providing continuous cover.”

Next I start to pick Richard’s brain on how a drone could be used as a surveillance tool.  Could you effectively use one of these drones in order to surveil a property? “Of course, it would be a really useful tool,” he goes on to explain, “you could easily identify high value assets that may usually be hidden from the street or road. You could see any security measures in place, pick up on camera and security dead spots. With the flexibility of a drone like ours you could get high quality imagery fed in real-time to tell you if there’s a presence on site, observe the property from outside to look for high value items or identify if the property is occupied. You could even get still photos of occupants inside.”

So not only could a criminal find out your security measures and vulnerabilities without stepping on site, they could gather imagery which could be used for several purposes, possibly including extortion.

Whilst the drones AWOL use are expensive at around £1k a piece, there are plenty of affordable options on the market. And as we’ve seen they can provide a great deal of fun for the enthusiast but they can also be a useful tool for criminals.

If you haven’t considered drone countermeasures as part of your security scheme, perhaps now is the time to do so. BluSkills deliver residential and commercial property assessments. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding your properties security or how to protect yourself against UAV’s get in touch here.