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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We still know very little about the drones that have shut down Gatwick, the U.K.'s second busiest airport, but their example is a painful reminder of our transportation system's vulnerabilities.

The big picture: This is why drone manufacturers want rules to prevent incidents like this that significantly damage trust in the nascent industry. In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration was expected to craft regulations this year. That didn’t happen, and drone companies aren’t happy.

Catch up quick:

  • A pair of drones have been spotted flying over the runway at Gatwick, grounding flights as police furiously search for the perpetrator(s), BBC reports.
  • That's left thousands stranded, hundreds of flights canceled and even the military being brought in to try to help, with no end in sight.
  • "[T]he drone intrusion that shut the airport was 'highly targeted' and designed to cause 'maximum disruption' just before Christmas," AP reports.

Between the lines: Events like today give public safety and law enforcement agencies ammunition to say, “This is why drones are a safety and national security threat.” They have a point.

  • Law enforcement will struggle with handling stray drones. (U.K. police feared shooting the Gatwick ones because of concerns about stray bullets.)
  • In the U.S., "lawmakers have given law enforcement new powers to hack or even shoot down drones that may pose security threats. Advances in drone technology, however, make it more difficult for law enforcement to identify communication signals between drones and ground operators," WSJ reports.
  • Drones can be innocuous. They could also be outfitted with bombs.
  • Elon Musk, in an "Axios on HBO" interview, warned of "assassin drones" that would use facial recognition to track and kill targets.

In addition to increased interest in recreational drones, tech companies like Google, Amazon and Intel have invested in developing the technologies for their own business purposes, such as package delivery.

  • Commercial drones can fly under specific height limits, but not over people. The FAA can grant a waiver for other commercial uses — such as during sporting events.

What to watch: To help appease security concerns, drone makers support remote identification standards so officials can spot drones operated by potential hostile actors.

  • But there’s some disagreement on how to do that technologically. The drone industry most wants the FAA to establish rules that allow operators to fly drones beyond their line of sight and over people.
  • Without standards around those activities, the industry is stuck in a holding pattern. 

Be smart, via Axios' Andrew Freedman: Gatwick is uniquely susceptible since it's a small, single-runway airport (not small in impact but in area).

  • Doing this at Atlanta or Denver or Chicago would be really hard, more like half an airport shutdown, as the drone operators would have to cover a massive distance.
  • The flip side: If they can't defend a single runway airport from this, what can they defend from a drone attack?

Go deeper

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TikTok drives new nostalgia economy

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Older brands, trends and technologies are making a comeback as younger consumers desperately chase slower, less chaotic times.

The big picture: TikTok's algorithm makes it easy for flashback items to resurface and quickly go viral both on its platform and eventually on other social networks.

Updated 4 hours ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and were due to travel to another destination when the gang struck in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

6 hours ago - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.