Drones are cool, right? You can take aerial photos and videos of your house, garden and a great dog walk. They are also being used to cause carnage.
In a recent White Hat hack, a drone was used to take over the infotainment system of a Tesla, which would have allowed control over seat positions, music playing and modifying steering controls and acceleration modes. In another ‘attack’ the doors on a stationary Tesla were opened using a drone.
While you would be forgiven for thinking that these examples are ‘lab’ like tests and are therefore not scary, remember when drones were used to bring the UK’s second-largest airport to a standstill. In late 2018, close to Christmas, drones were popping up close to the runway, and the authorities had no choice but to ground flights.
1,000 flights and 140,000 passengers were affected during that incident, and drones continue to cause problems, with a near-miss for a Virgin Atlantic flight during the summer of 2020.
This might seem annoying, particularly if you were one of the 140,000, but no one was harmed.
Drones are also being used to deliver drugs to prisoners, to bypass security operations. And to drop bombs.
In Mexico, the already horrendous struggles between drug gangs and security forces have escalated further as the gangs are using drones to drop explosives on security and police personnel. Reports are unclear on the number of casualties, but many civilians have fled as a result. It is scary even to consider what is happening.
Like many new technologies and advances (think AI particularly), drones epitomise the fact that it is how technology is used by us that will define whether it is good or bad. It has always been thus.
Drones can get supplies to disaster areas, find missing people, and scout for safe ways through dangerous territories, such as bush fires.
And they can, and are, being used to kill people. With drones, as with AI and other technologies where we cannot fathom their uses, we must figure out ways to control the Dark Side.