Leader comment: The perils of embracing the Drone Age

Drones may boost the economy but at what cost to our way of life?
Drones may boost the economy but at what cost to our way of life?
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Many significant new inventions or technologies have a moment in the sun when they seem to hold out the promise of a wonderful new world.

A new report by accountancy firm PwC suggests the widespread use of one such emerging technology, drones, could boost the UK economy by £42 billion by 2030 by improving productivity and gathering data. With Amazon already having trialled deliveries by drone, it would seem we are on the cusp of major transformation.

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But, before rushing ahead, we should pause for reflection. Do we really want our skies filled with the buzz from swarms of drones, flown by remote operators or controlled by artificial intelligence? Are the benefits worth such an upheaval in our cities? A £42bn prize might seem lucrative, but what are the downsides? If a delivery arrives within minutes rather than hours, will our lives be so much better?

Creating a new form of traffic in our cities will come with familiar problems, such as congestion, accidents and noise pollution.

But drones will take them, quite literally, to another level.

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