The Federal Aviation Administration is laying down the law when it comes to weaponizing drones, threatening to fine violators a hefty $25,000 penalty.
The bureau warned the American public on Thursday against attaching weapons or other dangerous objects to drones. These include items such as guns, bombs, fireworks, and flamethrowers.
FAA Directive On Attaching Weapons To Drones
In its statement, the FAA said any person caught violating its directive on weaponizing drones will face a heavy fine.
"Operating a drone that has a dangerous weapon attached to it is a violation of Section 363 of the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act enacted Oct. 5, 2018," the bureau said.
"Operators are subject to civil penalties up to $25,000 for each violation, unless the operator has received specific authorization from the Administrator of the FAA to conduct the operation."
In this sense, the term "dangerous weapon" refers to any item that is used for or is capable of causing serious bodily injury or death to another person.
The FAA said it will still implement federal regulations and statutes regarding the use of drones. Drone operators and manufacturers also need to comply with state and federal criminal laws on the use of weapons and other hazardous materials in certain operations.
The FAA released the new guidelines after several photos and videos of drones having weapon attachments surfaced online. One example would be the TF-19 Flamethrower Drone created by Ohio-based inventors Throwflame.
A video of the TF-19 has been making the rounds on YouTube, where the drone is shown lighting up some dried bushes on fire. The operator even had the drone hover right next to a tree and torched a beehive he found on one of the branches.
The clip of the TF-19 in action was posted back in July and has already accumulated almost 450,000 views. It has also garnered some mixed reactions from YouTube commenters.
One commenter said the drone now provides him with a "reasonable way" to take care of the weeds in his yard, while another one quipped that it could be useful to fight against a swarm of terrorists.
Meanwhile other users pointed out that the potential of the TF-19 to cause significant harm to people.
A commenter said that people could be burned using the weaponized drone without the culprit leaving a trace.
Another person wrote that getting murdered by such a machine would be terrifying.
When Throwflame asked viewers what the company should build next, a commenter said the makers should create a "water throwing" drone so that it would be useful for firefighters.
A fellow viewer also replied that Throwflame should bundle the TF-19 with a "fire extinguisher" drone.