With quadcopters seemingly growing in popularity with every passing day, White House security officials have another challenge on their hands, a fact highlighted by an incident that occurred at the president’s official residence at the start of this week.
The Secret Service said it found a crashed drone on the White House lawn early Monday morning, a discovery that reportedly prompted a temporary lockdown of the site as officials took a closer look at the damaged flying machine, which, incidentally turned out to be a DJI Phantom, one of the most popular quadcopters on the market.
Following widespread coverage of the incident, a man claiming to be the drone operator contacted officials to tell them he’d been flying the drone recreationally before suddenly losing control of it.
Worryingly for White House security staff, the drone, which is about two feet wide, evaded radar, apparently because it was too small and flying too low.
No doubt the incident will prompt a review of security measures at the White House amid fears that such a flying machine could be used to carry a threatening payload – such as explosives or a lethal substance – into the grounds of the president’s official home.
There’s currently a security-related ban on flying drones over any part of D.C., while the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently launched a campaign to encourage new quadcopter owners to fly them responsibly.
Judging by Monday morning’s incident, the FAA still has much work to do in imposing its various bans, which also cover airports and national parks around the country, while its campaign for sensible flying may also need to be reviewed.
Thankfully the vast majority of drone operators know how to avoid run-ins with the authorities when it comes to the operation of their airborne toys, though in light of recent events, security officials at the White House will be increasingly concerned about those with more sinister motives and how exactly to deal with them.
[Via NY Times]