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What You Need To Know Before Flying A Drone In The UK

What You Need To Know Before Flying A Drone In The UK

Over the last few years, drones have taken off (no pun intended) in a big way. Once used only by the military, these unmanned aerial vehicles are now being used in a vast array of industries. Search and rescue operations, crop surveillance, and delivering medical supplies to inaccessible regions are just a few of the many applications of drones.

The use of drones by civilians has grown, as these devices are being produced for consumers for an affordable price. A lot of persons use them as toys, while others may attach a camera and use the drone for taking photos and videos from the sky.

Defining a Drone

If living in the United Kingdom and wish to fly a drone, there are rules that govern all aspects. A drone would be specified as any small unmanned aircraft that weighs less than 20 kilograms.

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It is Not Easy to Control a Drone

The first thing that you should know about flying a drone, is that it is not always going to be easy to control. In reality, quadcopters are impossible to fly – they are kept stable by a computer that is inside of the body. This part of the drone is generally called the flight controller. Depending on how the flight controller is set up, each drone will fly just a little bit different than another. In some drones, the flight controller is set up for providing stability, while another flight controller may be set up for agility.

When shopping for a drone, it is important to know how the price is related to the level of difficulty for use. When looking at radio controlled cars, helicopters, or planes, as the price goes up the level of difficulty will go up as well. This is not the case for drones. As the price of a drone goes up, this means that there are added sensors and functionalities to the product, actually making it easier for a novice drone pilot to fly. In relation to the price versus difficulty level, the drones that are easiest to fly can be found for around £530.

Currently, some of the easiest drones to fly are the Q500 4K, Inspire 1, 3DR SOLO and the Phantom 3. The Syma X5C and Hubsan X4 are on the cheaper end of the spectrum, but they are a little bit harder to control by someone with only a little bit of experience.

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Brand New Drones Are Not Always Ready to Fly

There are a few common acronyms that you will see when you are looking for a drone to purchase. There are RTF, ARF, and BNF.

RTF is short for ready-to-fly. In general, an RTF quadcopter will not need any additional assembly or setup, but you will need to do a few simple things like charge the battery, bind the controller to the quadcopter, or install the propellers.

ARF is short for almost-ready-to-fly. An ARF quadcopter is more like a drone kit. Normally they will not come with a receiver or transmitter and could require some assembly. This type of quadcopter kit would also leave it up to you to get some of the components like the battery, flight controller, motor, or ESCs. There is a very broad definition of ARF drone kits, so just know that no two are alike and the description and contents should be read thoroughly.

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BNF is short for bind-and-fly. This type of drone normally comes totally assembled but lacks a controller. With this type of model, you will need to either use a compatible controller that you already have, or purchase one separately.

It should be noted that simply because a transmitter is on the same frequency as a receiver, it is not guaranteed that they will work together. They must also have the same manufacture protocol to be able to communicate. This is why it is so important to check that a controller will work with a drone prior to purchasing.

Rules for Flying a Drone

Due to the risk that drones pose to individuals, establishments, and even airports, there are a strict set of rules in place.

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  • First and foremost, when operating a drone, it must not endanger anything or anyone and the “remote pilot” is responsible for satisfying themselves that the flight will be conducted safely.
  • The drone cannot be flown over or within 150 metres of an area that is congested.
  • The drone cannot be flown within the confines of 50 metres of any vehicle, vessel, or anything that is not controlled by the person that is flying the drone.
  • When the drone is in the air, it must stay in the visual line of sight of the remote pilot. This is generally 400 feet vertically and 500 metres horizontally.
  • The drone cannot be flown within the confines of 150 metres of an open-air organized assembly made up of over 1000 people.
  • The drone cannot be flown within 30 metres of any individual except for the individual that is in charge of the drone.
  • If the drone is being operated outside of these distances, the remote pilot must seek approval from the CAA. The remote pilot must then prove that they can operate the drone safely outside of those distances.
  • The drone cannot be flown within 50 metres of any individual—except when it is taking off or landing.

Surveillance and Work Drones

  • Any small unmanned aircraft that is being used for the purposes of surveillance is subject to tighter restrictions regarding the minimum distance that is able to fly near people or properties.
  • The remote pilot must seek permission from the CAA before these operations are commenced.
  • When using a drone for paid aerial work, the remote pilot must get permission from the CAA before commencing work.

The Data Protection Act comes into action when flying a drone for surveillance purposes. This is because the camera on the drone will be collecting images of individuals that may be able to be identified, even if the images that were collected were not intentional. The Data Protection Act outlines how the images should be collected and stored. Be sure that you are in compliance with this Act when flying a drone with camera capabilities.

Safety Risks

When a drone is being used for commercial purposes, the remote pilot must get permission from the CAA, and when the drone weighs over 20 kilograms, then it is only lawful to use it in a certified “danger area”.

The enforcement of the CAA is focused on ensuring that those who are not properly licensed are not using any drones for commercial purposes, but there have been a few instances in which the CAA imposed themselves and took action against a remote pilot, even when the person in question was using the drone for private (domestic) purposes.

The implications come when the drone poses a safety risk to a person or another aircraft of some sort, or when the drones with cameras pose a privacy risk to individuals that may be recorded. This is the reason that the CAA calls for permission.

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

More About Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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