The Federal Aviation Administration really wants the public to stop attaching weapons and fireworks to drones. Officials with the agency published a statement about the matter last week, warning that operating weaponized drones is not only dumb and dangerous but also against the law. Anyone caught flying a drone modified with these items faces a huge fine, something that could snowball into more serious punishment if someone gets hurt.
Who would put a weapon on a drone? Lots of people, it turns out. If you’re imaging something simple, think again. We’ve seen drones equipped with fully functional chainsaws and flamethrowers. YouTube is rife with videos of modified drones capable of raining down destruction. The FAA claims in a statement published last week that it has seen drones equipped with bombs and fireworks.
These modifications, the agency says, are illegal, at least if you actually fly the drone featuring the dangerous items. First and foremost, the FAA is concerned about the fact that these items ‘may result in significant harm to a person.’ That’s not all, though.
The FAA says weaponized drones may cause ‘significant harm … to your bank account,’ namely in the form of a fine up to $25,000 per violation. Weaponized drones are specifically prohibited by Section 363 of the FAA Reauthorization Act passed late last year, and the only exception is special authorization granted by the agency’s administrator.
The government considers something to be a ‘dangerous weapon’ if it is capable of causing either serious injuries to people or death — and it doesn’t matter whether that’s the intended purpose of the items. Putting fireworks on a drone, for example, would fall under this category because they can potentially kill someone regardless of whether the drone operator merely wants to put on a show.