Drones In Nigeria
An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle popularly known as Drone is an aircraft without a human pilot on board. The history of drones go far back to World War I when the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company invented a pilotless aerial torpedo that would explode at a preset time.
Drone technology is constantly evolving as new innovation and big investment are bringing more advanced drones to the market every few months.
Below, I discuss UAV technology on the most popular drones on the market which have all the latest drone technology. Most drones will have very similar systems incorporated.
Unmanned aerial vehicle technology covers everything from the aerodynamics of the drone, materials in the manufacture of the physical UAV, to the circuit boards, chipset and software which are the brains of the drone.
How Drones Work
A typical unmanned aircraft is made of light composite materials to reduce weight and increase maneuverability. This composite material strength allows military drones to cruise at extremely high altitudes.
Drones are equipped with different state of the art technology such as infra-red cameras (military UAV), GPS and laser (military UAV). Drones are controlled by remote control system also sometimes referred to as a ground cockpit.
An unmanned aerial vehicle system has two parts, the drone itself and the control system.
The nose of the unmanned aerial vehicle is where all the sensors and navigational systems are present. The rest of the body is full of drone technology systems since there is no need for space to accommodate humans. The engineering materials used to build the drone are highly complex composites which can absorb vibration which decreases the noise produced and also light weight.
Drone Technology In Nigeria
Nigeria drone enthusiasts, like others across the world, have spent the last couple of months experimenting and exploring innovative ways to use drone technology. Mostly adopted by filmmakers, start-ups and enthusiastic hobbyists, there was also hope on the part of e-commerce companies that drones could be the answer to dealing with delivery challenges in the country, including frequent traffic congestion and a haphazard home address system.
That hope faded, with an announcement by the Nigerian government on May 8 2016 of an immediate ban on launching Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RUA) or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) in its airspace without a permit from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as well as the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
The government argues that the deployment of drones “without adequate security clearance” has led to “predictable safety concerns and security threats.” Security concerns in Nigeria remain high as the country battles with a deadly insurgency by the terrorist group Boko Haram that has left millions displaced and at least 20,000 dead in the north, as well as re-surging militancy in the south. While the government didn’t cite specific concerns in its statement, there are likely fears that Boko Haram and other groups might deploy drones for surveillance and strikes.
In a statement, the NCAA declared “no government agency, organization or an individual will launch an RPA/UAV in the Nigerian airspace for any purpose whatsoever without obtaining requisite permit from the NCAA and ONSA.”
The battle over drone regulation is not new, with countries like Canada adopting robust guidelines preventing use of drones near areas with large groups of people and for unauthorized photography. The UK parliament has also called for compulsory registration of all civilian and commercial drones so as to manage “drone traffic and safety concerns.”
However, the worry lies in Nigeria’s cumbersome bureaucratic processes. Obtaining permits from such high level agencies for recreational and commercial use of drones could be a difficult, opaque and costly process.
Fears over the impact of drone regulation are not exclusive to Nigeria on the continent. A blanket ban on drones by Kenyan authorities in January last year (also for security reasons) dampened hopes of innovative and commercial uses as investors questioned funding projects such as air delivery in the face of government regulation.
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