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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Essay

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Updated: Jan 13th, 2020


The interest in the development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), or better known as drones, has increased in the defense industry, particularly in military, where they are primarily designed for carrying various military operations. UAVs offer a more efficient and less risky way of carrying military operations when compared to the typical manned aircrafts.

The Department of Defense of the United States of America defined an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle as a powered aerial vehicle sustained in flight by aerodynamic lift over most of its flight path and guided without an onboard crew. The UAVs are operated by remote control devices in which the pilots and/or controllers are stationed on a ground, mainly in a military base.

According to the arms control treaties, UAVs include aerodynamic drones and remotely controlled vehicles but excludes ballistic and semi-ballistic vehicles, artillery and cruise missiles that are viewed as nuclear delivery systems.


Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance forms the core aspect of the use of UAVs due to its ability to endure longer loiter time, flexibility on positioning targets and the difficulty for opponents to detect the UAVs. The long endurance ability of the UAVs plays a vital role in surveillance.

This increase the efficiency of the UAVs in intelligence gathering when compared to the manned platforms. According to Roland and R. John (2005), the roles of UAVs tend to vary depending on the sector and difficulty level of the military operations. They notes that there are two sectors of military operations.

These are civilian and commercial sector. The UAVs employed in the civilian sector tend to focus on the aerial traffic monitoring, weather forecasting, communication relay, border management, maritime patrol, crime prevention, and various environmental monitoring such as bush fire. On the other hand, the commercial purposes of UAV include tasks such as agricultural and fisheries management, freight of goods, pipeline monitoring, and aerial photography.

Attractive UAV applications.

Figure 1.0 Attractive UAV Applications.

The UAVs are also are employed in critical areas where minimal contact with friendly forces exists. With manned aircrafts, operating in an unfriendly territory increases the chances of fatal disasters. This introduces for creating highly advanced drones equipped with onboard cameras used to observe and relay various targets from the ground to the control room with high level of accuracy. This enables the control base stations to assess the targets and mitigate any damage that may occur in the course of operations.

Cummulative UAV Eight Hours.

Figure 1.2

With the advancement in technology, the UAVs involvement in civil duties increases as the safety level for civilian use is ensured, as shown in Figure 1.2. The cost of running military operations is also reduced as most of the operations become automated while the need for technical support, for example, has been omitted.

With all these in mind, UAV allows greater flexibility over flight control while enhancing its performance through enabling a series of military applications with improved signal and data processing, enhanced remote communication, and integrated avionics that serve UAV as a necessary option to air force.

Small Picture Ethics

Unmanned aerial vehicles require code of ethics in their operation. Specifically, people need to rate the popularity of the aircraft with reference to the accrued benefits they offer citizens and the nation as a whole. In this description, the author will use the Australian Computer Society code of ethics in explaining the ethics in relation to unmanned aerial vehicle.

Australian computer society is an association that includes professionals from information and communication technology department. The objective of the code of ethics is to make advancement in excellence for information and technology. Their other objective is to help in developing the resources of information and communication technology of the Australian nationalities.

The code of ethics came into existence in the year 1966 from five state societies. The core and values of the code of ethics include priorities, competence, honesty, social implications, professional development and information technology profession (ACS foundation , 2012).

The first value talks of priority. Under this value, an Australian must give the interest of his or her community a first place above the personal or sectional interest. The interest to give priority is the continuity of services of information technology and communication for the sake of safety.

Unmanned aerial vehicle embraces this value through the advanced communication system through the remote sensing mechanism. Unmanned aerial vehicle has different remote sensing function, which include the electromagnetic spectrum, biological, gamma ray, and chemical sensors. All these sensors are very useful in the communication process. Likewise, they use high technology in delivering their communication signals. Accrediting the technological information used by the aircrafts attributes to the Australian code of ethics.

The second value entails competence. Under this value, an Australian must work competently and diligently for others. This relates to the services that the aircraft provides for the Australian citizens. Unmanned aerial vehicle has a number of benefits that positively affect the lives of the Australian citizens.

The most important benefit the aircraft gives is surveillance. Unmanned aerial vehicle has surveillance ability for livestock monitoring, mapping of the wildlife, provision of home and pipeline security, anti- piracy and road patrol. The competitive nature of the commercial, aerial surveillance gives the aircraft a wide range of benefits to the nation. The services the aircraft gives to the community bears weight that needs credit.

The third value is honesty. Under this value, an Australian must embrace honesty as a moral in the presentation of skills and services. This relates to the services that the citizen will give to the nation. Likewise, one can examine the services provided by the unmanned aerial vehicle in terms of this value.

Use of remote sensing gives accurate information to the militaries concerning the visual spectrum, detection of airborne presence and analysis of air concentration. Giving out correct information concerning the situation of the environment embraces the value of honesty (Brown, 1993).

The fourth value is social implications. Under this value, an Australian has the work of striving hard with the intention of improving the quality of life of others affected by the field of work. People will always work with the goal of positively reaching out to the lives of other people.

Likewise, unmanned aerial vehicle works with the intention of enhancing the quality of life of those affected by the work it provides. The aircraft main purpose is for defense and the military people use the machine to detect danger prior attacking a place. The service that the aircraft provides positively enhances the quality of life of the military.

The fifth value is professional development. Under this value, an Australian has the mandate of striving with the aim of enhancing his or her own professional development and that of others. This will depend on self-confidence. Giving out a beneficial service will mean exploring the professionalism within an expert.

The result will be a benefit to the third parties. Unmanned aerial vehicle works in a similar manner. Their function of scientific research enables the aircraft develops resistance through development using new technology. Likewise, the scientist gains the knowledge from the researched activity. The ability of the aircraft to penetrate through dangerous areas gives the scientist a knowhow on the undiscovered things.

The last value is information technology profession. Under this value, the Australians have the authority to enhance the integrity of information technology profession with respect to their members. Individual do not work alone, but have to seek the assistance of other professionals.

Unmanned aerial vehicle works with the same spirit. Considering that it lacks a pilot, the aircrafts depends on the control of a pilot located away from the structure. In this context, the machine has to get assistance from a pilot for it to give accurate information (Cassidy & McGrady, 2001).

Big Picture Ethics

Ethical standpoint is a moral perception that people have on a certain culture. In this context, it represents the moral view that people will have on the unmanned aerial vehicles. People have a different perception regarding the benefits they get from the machine. This may vary with the regions keeping in mind that unmanned aerial vehicles are present in certain regions.

Ethical standpoints are very critical in decision-making. They help individuals identify and define issues, while pressuring them to thinking in a systematic way. This means that they will have a chance to view various issues with different perspectives thereby providing a guideline for decision-making.

Ethical standpoints exist in different types including ethical relativism, divine command theory, utilitarianism and deontology and virtue ethics. This segment will give the main differences among the five ethical standpoints with a little description of each (Kamm, 2007).

Ethical Relativism

Ethical relativism is an ethical standpoint, which asserts the non-existence of principles, which are universally valid. In this view, all the moral principles are valid relative to the preferences of different cultures. The society within the defined culture gives out rules, which serve as a standard measure of judgment. The individual within the society will have to respect the rules given by their culture and make use of them in the decision-making process.

One advantage of this approach is the tolerance the standpoint brings of other cultures. The rules help in building the societies with the ways they perceive things thus preventing them from falling apart. However, most cultures, which use this ethical standpoint, lack dynamism. This means that their ways of decision-making as per their rules limits their exploration of the current ways, thereby confusing their perception of current deeds with what ought to be done (Kjellberg & Ivanhoe, 1996).

Devine Command Theory

The second ethical standpoint is the divine command theory. Under this standpoint, the moral determinants are dependent on God, who is supreme. The people who follow this approach depend on the laws that God as the standards of decision-making. The act, which will obey the law of God, is right while the act, which disobeys the laws given by God, is wrong. They consider God to be a supreme being who knows it all.

The benefit of this stance is the equality it brings to individuals. This means that all the individuals who trust in God will have to use the same approach in decision-making. However, this approach may not give a true, benefit to the individual as people arbitrarily depend on some interpretation that has no true divine authority (Paul, Miller and Paul, 2008).


The third ethical standpoint is utilitarianism. Under this approach, individuals judge the action right or wrong depending on the consequences of the actions. In this context, the right actions represent those, which give the greatest balance of contentment over discontent. If the actions do not bring happiness, then the individual will not accept the activity. With this concern, individual happiness is equally significant.

One benefit of this stance is that promotes the well-being of humans as it attempts to lessen the suffering they may encounter. The happiness encountered after the activity will help in making judgments. However, people have different preferences, and an individual’s good may happen to be another’s evil. This makes it hard to make precise prediction on the consequences; thus making collective judgment hard (Pasztor and Emshwiller, 2012).


The fourth ethical standpoint is deontology. Under this stance, individual emphasize on the moral rules and obligation. This means that judgment will be a collective opinion to the society. For instance, if people are not in agreement with the rule, then the imperative is not morally acceptable. This means that the collective opinion of the people does not permit the rule. Individual using this stance put emphasis on autonomy, justice and other acts that justifies the applicability of the rule.

This rule is important as it gives an exceptional moral status for the society who embraces it. The rules, which appear to be applicable, end up being universally accepted. However, these rules do not give a clear definition of living things. Some rules may only benefit individuals at the expense of other living things; that is, the rules appear are abstract.

Virtue Ethics

The last ethical standpoint people use in making judgment is the virtue ethics. Under this approach, morals are considered internal. This method relies on the thinking capacity of people with intelligence capacity. Virtue ethics, as a way of making judgment, pursues the provision of good individuals who perform well out of impulsive goodness. The method gives emphasis on living well while achieving distinction.

One advantage of this method is that it internalizes the moral behavior of an individual. A person will make a personal judgment internally to give an opinion of the activity, internally. However, this method does not offer guidance that is useful in resolving ethical dilemmas. This means that the judgment done internally will not be helpful in solving ethical dilemmas.

Use of UAV in Relation to the Ethics

Making a decision on the best activity is highly dependent on individual perspective and the ethical standpoint of the given culture. This will, give an impact on how the activity is beneficial to both the societal and individual level.

Concerning the unmanned aerial vehicles, people have a different perception concerning their benefits to society. Their judgments will also depend on the perspective of overall opinions, and this specifically depends on the accrual benefits to society.

In describing the ethical stance of people, use of unmanned aerial vehicles will be the basement criteria. However, this depends on the approach they will use in making judgments. In this context, the author will discuss the current use of UAV in relation to deontology, relativism and ethical pluralism.

Under deontology, individual emphasizes on moral rules and obligations. This means they have to get a general willingness of people for the rule to be permissible. Relating the above to the use of UAV, people will have to be conversant with how beneficial the aircraft is to the society. In making the judgment on this, an analyst will have to get the rating of the people to the new aircraft. This is dependent on different benefits that people consider as universally accepted.

The first benefit that has a high rating is the remote sensing ability. The aircraft has various remote sensing functions like electromagnetic sensors, gamma ray sensors, chemical sensors and biological sensors. Each part has distinct application that is very beneficial to different people. For the people in the defense department, electromagnetic spectrum is viable. This feature is good for detecting dangerous attacks as they contain visual spectrum with a connected radar system. Universal agreement on the use of radar in the defense department gives the aircraft a high rating.

Likewise, the machine has biological sensors, which sense the presence of airborne microorganisms among other biological factors. This is very useful to the health of an individual.

Similarly, the chemical sensor, which sues the laser spectroscopy in analyzing the concentration of an individual element in the air, helps in determining the safety of people. Considering that air is saturated with different elements, some may be harmful to the health of a person. Thus, by use of UAV, one can know the place to be without any harm.

Considering the above advantages, the defense team and the biologists can enter a certain area after considering it safe for humans. The collective opinion of the defense team on the benefit of the aircraft allows the machine to operate, thereby making their judgments on deontology approach.

Another way of making judgment relates to relativism approach. This approach, as explained earlier, operates on non-existence universally valid principles, but rather depends on the cultural tastes. In the current decade, technology happens to be a principle that people embrace.

The innovations of many things that positively affect the lives of individuals make life easy to operate. This means that, an activity, which will appear to embrace current technology, will be of importance to the society (Shafer-Landau, 2003).

With the struggle of many nations renovating their structures with relevance to new technology, UAV came out as a surprise to many nations. The ability of the aircraft in detecting a number of things prior invasions proves beneficial to the society, specifically the military department. The technology of using remote sensing in many activities guarantees the safety of people. The aircraft also, uses the latest technology of operation, that is, the pilot will not accompany the aircraft, but rather will use a remote control to navigate the aircraft.

The main idea is to make a prior visit to ensure knowledge on the place prior attack. Likewise, the aircraft has the ability of searching and rescuing people without people personally going to the place. The technology used in making the aircraft predominantly assists the military people in their operations.

For a country, which embraces technology, unmanned aerial vehicle is the best for their defense. As noted earlier, most nations currently embrace technology in everything they perform, and developed countries like China, America among others come up with innovations, which assist in various practices.

As universally accepted by culture, technology is the way forward to make things easy, and with the innovation of the unmanned aerial vehicle, individuals will make their judgment using relativism approach, basing their decision on technological approach.

The last way to make a judgment on unmanned aerial vehicle will be in relation to ethical pluralism. Ethical pluralism is a theory, which asserts that many principles of ethics exist. It is a theory of nature of values which humans follow, making up their moral lives. In this context, humans take the rule as it appears, and have no mandate of reducing the value of the rule. From the onset, most countries with unmanned aerial vehicle normally use the aircraft for fighting (Raz, 2003).

This is evident from the structures incorporated to the aircraft, which the military uses for attacks, for instance, the Hellfire missile that the MQ-1 Predator UAV has. United States uses the aircraft for hitting ground targets. The first use of armed predators was in 2001 during the war of Pakistan and Uzbekistan. Their main aim was to assassinate high profile people in Afghanistan. Additionally, the military used predator based UAV in killing al-Qaeda terrorists in Yemen in the year 2002.

From the ethical definition, war is an activity that destabilizes the peace and safety of people within a region. The initiation of war within a community brings negative impacts to the development of the region; thus, people consider it as a bad moral. The notion that it is bad to harm, remains an unchanged rule that has value to the morals of people. This means that the human race will have no mandate of reducing this rule of harming people as a vice to a moral.

With this context, any counterattack that assists in the prevention of harm in a community is considered safe. This means that, with the invention of unmanned aerial vehicle, human race have a reason to smile, as they have a guaranteed safety. Thus, with the benefit that the aircraft brings to the community, people will take the initiative of judging positively the existence of the aircraft.

UAV design and development happens to be a worldwide concern with manufacturers moving across the globe. The first people to initiate this technology were United States and Israel. The main manufacturers of the industry are the Northrop Grumman and General Atomics. Ever since the development of the aircraft, different nation embrace the technology in their military.

Nations in Australia also embrace the technology with major manufacturing companies located in different parts. As part of their activity, unmanned aerial vehicles gives intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition support for overland operations. Currently, the Australian army owns two tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (Shah, 2009).

Future Use

In the management of unmanned aircraft vehicles, nations have to develop unique features with recent technologies. This will enable them have a first hand in attacking their enemies. As a point to consider, the nations have to interconnect with the best technological providers who will give directions on the current technology to use.

The future of unmanned aerial vehicles remains to be wide as the expectation of nations is the growth of the industry by 2020. This follows rapid development of military, commercial and civil application of the product. In the same line, the National Airspace System will change distinctly for the next 16 years.

The introduction of new technologies and procedures will trigger the change. Among the future changes, include the formation of a system that manages information exchange among users of air traffic management. Likewise, the industry wishes to introduce a 4-D navigation system that will boost the service quality. The industry also needs to come up with alternative separation procedures that will help in improving the services that the aircraft provides (Stahl and Foreman, 2004).

Among other futures that the industry wants to embark on include stratospheric telecommunication airship, high altitude imagery, border patrol, surveillance in maritime, improvement in the environmental sensing among others. In implementing this future development, the industry faces different challenges among being legal, ethical and private challenges.

In developing the UAV in a complex unit, Australia among other internationals face legal problem. The main legal problem faced by the nations is the restriction of flight space as under different jurisdictions. Likewise, the flight areas are very small. This limits the unmanned aerial vehicles from entering the restricted areas.

The restriction by the state of the region may hinder the operations of the military. Likewise, differences in states, which have a common goal of manufacturing the vehicle, may interfere with the operation of the opponents. This is quite common in jurisdictions, which are under surveillance of militia groups.

Ethical of developing unmanned aerial vehicles continue to build positively. However, this may give a negative impression of the nation. A nation that specializes on manufacturing weapons remains to be a threat to other nations. Ethically, people may form a negative judgment upon the safety of the nation.

Considering that countries in Australia, America among others continue to manufacture the aircraft with intended future development, they pose a threat to their own nation. This, ethically, may present a negative judgment towards the safety of a nation. Likewise, the opponents, who mainly are the terrorist, will continue to develop alternative means of counterattacking them, thereby rendering their technological improvements null and void.

Despite the industry facing challenges from the legal and ethical sector, they also have privacy issues. As an industry that manufactures an aircraft used in the military action, the manufacturers should embrace high level of secrecy. The secrecy will have to be their strength in developing unique vehicles with certain features that will be used against their opponents.

This may be a future challenge that these industries face, as workers are people one cannot trust. With the personal gain that an individual has, one can sell the secrecy of the company to an opponent thereby realizing the building block of the products. Handling matters with privacy is a big problem that requires attention. Nations should ensure that people working in the industry embrace the privacy of the company at any cost (Waller, 2005).

Individual Opinion

From a personal point of view, unmanned aerial vehicles are very important aircrafts, especially for the military groups. This represents the level of technology that people are adapting, from manual to automatic. Development in technology gives room for quality production of services and goods with fewer services. Focusing on the technological benefits of the aircrafts, defense department of the United States, Australia, among other nations have guaranteed their citizens safety.

Likewise, the military, contrary to former aircraft that was manual, have protection from initial attacks from the opponents. The presence of sensor fusion, which combines information from different sensors, helps in making passing the message to the military on the condition of the opponents. The communication system, which coordinates to other agents in the of imperfect information channel, is exclusively clear.

Additionally, the presence of trajectory generation, which determines the optimum control operation in a certain path, is a very important feature in military action. These among other benefits of the aircraft to people are an important factor that nations should embrace. As a nation that needs to guarantee her citizen safety, the government should consider deployment of unmanned aircraft vehicles.

Despite the numerous benefits that these nations accrue from the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, they always suffer some challenges. These, however, are the challenges that they anticipate in the future development of the industry legal, ethical and privacy challenges.

From a personal perspective, legal challenges are hard to avoid, as these are dependent on the way the two nations interrelate. In an event where the two nations remain to be enemies, the invasion might prove very hard for the invasion, and this may trigger total war between the two countries. Despite this, nations should device very strong waves that can detect the action of the opponents without taking the aircraft physically to the location. Likewise, all sensors need to be very strong and upgraded for high sensing capability.

Concerning the ethical challenges, nations should ensure that the citizens do not panic at the manufacture of the airlines. The panic may lead to a wrong judgment on the safety of the nations. This may jeopardize the lives of the citizens. In manufacturing these vehicles, the nations should ensure a high degree of privacy and ensure the whole exercise remains classified.


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