The Federal Aviation Administration issued an advisory this week warning drone pilots and the general public that placing a dangerous weapon on a drone can carry a fine of up to $25,000.
“Perhaps you’ve seen online photos and videos of drones with attached guns, bombs, fireworks, flamethrowers, and other dangerous items,” the notice reads. “Do not consider attaching any items such as these to a drone because operating a drone with such an item may result in significant harm to a person and to your bank account.”
The FAA cites language in the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act to justify the fine.
Drone use is growing among commercial groups like Alphabet’s Wing and Amazon, while the Department of Transportation and FAA are working with public and private partners like AT&T and local police in certain regions as part of the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integrated Pilot Program.
Lawmakers in North Dakota passed a law in 2015 to legalize the use of non-lethal weapons on drones piloted by police, while Connecticut lawmakers considered a bill in 2017 to legalize use of lethal force with drones by law enforcement.
In war zones, Russian gun maker Kalashnikov is developing a kamikaze drone that can carry a payload of up to 3 kilograms designed to detonate near a target.
In an assassination attempt roughly a year ago, two drones strapped with explosives detonated near Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro.
Also in 2018: Engineers working with the U.S. Department of Defense created a hardware device to redirect weaponized drones and protect the lives of soldiers in Iraq.
Apart from assassination attempts and war zone applications, recent drone incidents at airports have heightened public safety concerns. Drones in or near flight paths near airports led to the closure of airports in London, Newark, and Dubai in the past year. Last month, the FAA announced an update for B4UFly to simplify instructions to drone pilots using a red, yellow, and green light approach.