More Swedes dream of drones

A growing number of Swedes are applying for permits to use drones, with the police planning to make greater use of them, too.

For just a couple of thousand krona, you can get your own camera-fitted drone, or Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) as the devices are referred to in the United States. In recent years the number of drone permits issued in Sweden has grown drastically.

In 2013, the Swedish Transport Agency issued 275 such permits, compared to just 31 in 2010. Today, there are even more permits out there and the number of applications is growing, with most Swedes wanting to use the drones for aerial photography. Many real estate agents, for instance, want to use aerial photographs in their adds, Anna Ahlberg of the Swedish Transport Agency told Swedish Television News.

Swedish Television holds a permit to use drones for aerial photography, too. It is hard to get an idea of exactly how many drones there are in Sweden since many of them are acquired for private use and that normally does not require a permit.

Some warn that the trend puts privacy at risk.  “We don’t have a strong paparazzi culture in Sweden, but it’s probably just a question of time before we see images taken in apartments or above swimming pools in people’s backyards,” said Per Engström of the National Police Board.

Still, the police is also looking into how they can use drone technology in their own work, with the National Police Board planning to launch a project after the summer which will involve examining the potential of the devices.

“It’s really just our imagination that sets the limits here. They can be used in anything from searching for missing people to scanning crime scenes, which would involve fewer risks for our staff,” said Engström.

For instance, police could use drones – though they prefer to use the term UAS – to find out what is going on inside an apartment and in that way they can avoid having to enter themselves. Or the drones could be used to monitor demonstrations or to collect information from accident scenes.

In Sweden, you must apply for a permit from the Swedish Transport Agency if the drone you want to use is constructed for use in trials and research, for commercial purposes, for non-recreational flights or if they are to be flown out of a pilot’s view.