Friday, September 4, 2015

A Rapidly Changing Airspace

Drones are becoming a polarizing issue.

We recently wrote about the use of UAV's or drones and the laws that apply to them in the United States so far. This post will serve as a quick update to some events that have recently occurred that will have an impact on the future use of drones, ways that they are being applied now, and discuss a few of the other ways drones may help archaeologists.
The FAA B4UFLY App



Recently, the FAA released updated information on incidences of drones affecting manned aircraft flights, especially those entering or leaving airport airspace. With the rapid increase in use among the general public it is becoming apparent that public outreach and education about maintaining the safety of our airspace is necessary. A step in this direction is the FAA release of the B4UFLY app being beta-tested at the moment. This app should allow for better interaction between the FAA and the public regarding the safe use of drones. We can expect to see this app, or something like it, as one of the primary means of keeping drones away from manned aircraft in the future. The FAA has also created two executive level positions to manage the integration of drones into U.S. airspace, a sure sign that the use of drones is expected to become the rule instead of the exception in years to come. All of this points to a trend of integration into our daily lives and, for us, a managed avenue forward for use in archaeological investigations on a regular basis! 
Australian lifeguards will use drones for search and rescue. This wasn't mentioned in the blog post, but look at them. Just look at what they're wearing. That's hilarious. 

As we previously discussed, archaeologists are increasingly finding uses for drones in field work. Drones are able to collect mountains of data in a relatively quick amount of time and with minimal human power required to operate. One of the most important uses for drones right now is in recording the destruction of sites in the Middle East due to on-going combat and the purposeful destruction of cultural resources by the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Concurrent with the issues throughout the region is the increased instance of looting by many different groups. Archaeologists in countries near areas of unrest are using drones to manage sites safely and from a distance, such as the archaeologists working to protect cultural resources in Jordan, sites already beset with looting. Drones are also being used to create visual documentation of the destruction of many of these cultural sites. We can expect to see a great deal more of this information making its way into future archaeological research for this region of the world. For now, drones are one of the best tools available to archaeologists to preserve what they can in these circumstances. 
Syria: Krak des Chevaliers in December 2008. Image ©DigitalGlobe | U.S. Department of State, 
By October 2013 the site showed evidence of craters (yellow arrows). ©2014, DigitalGlobe,
Stay tuned for more updates on the growth of drone use by archaeologists and those working to preserve cultural resources!

Text: Kevin Gidusko
Pics: 
1. http://web.alternet.org/comics/alternet-comics-matt-davies-amazons-drones
2. http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?do=main.textpost&id=f9bb2ebf-f57c-4bfa-9a14-702822fe103a
3. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/surf-life-savers-to-use-unmanned-drones-to-monitor-sharks-swimmers-off-nations-beaches/story-e6frg6nf-1226383590725
4. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/middleeast/syria/11468349/Syria-war-Aleppos-heritage-sites-destroyed.html


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