Thailand Drone

In December 2013, Thai drone handler @Cyberjom captured footage of anti-government protests using his drone, an early instance of the use of drones during protests. In January of this year, the Bangkok Post reported that the Thai Transport Ministry would begin drawing up rules and regulations for the use of UAVs in Thailand. The government reported privacy issues as the main reason for tightening its regulations on unmanned aircrafts. According to press accounts, Thai regulations will divide application into two categories: sports and research purposes, and personal use. For the former, users would need to secure prior permissions and a submit a flight plan. The latter would not be allowed to be fitted with cameras. An exception is made for drones used by the film industry, which is considered alongside the latter category rather than under the former category. According to research conducted by the New America Foundation, as of June 2015 there is no evidence that such laws have been enforced by Thai authorities.

In spite of these regulations, media professionals are increasingly using drones in Thailand, and the country has seen growth in a fledgling domestic drone industry. As in other countries with developing drone regulations, some in the Thai drone industry have been turning to self-regulation. “When companies such as ours takes a pro-active approach during this interim period towards safety and self regulation, we receive very positive support from the authorities,” said Jenny Balee, General Manager of Bangkok Video Production, a film company that regularly uses unmanned aircrafts for aerial photography and videography in Thailand and Myanmar.


Last June, it was reported that the Thai military has been buying weapons from Canadian manufacturers since 2010. Surveillance drones were allegedly among the equipment purchased from various Canadian companies. Nearly $2.2 million of such equipment had been purchased by the Thai military between 2010-11.  

The Royal Thai Airforce also employs various domestic companies to produce unmanned aircrafts. Among these companies is Siam UAV Industries, a robotics company that specializes in unmanned systems, and G-Force Composites, a UAV composite manufacturing company.

Siam UAV

  • The Athena-1is a surveillance drone used by the Royal Thai Navy and Royal Thai Armed Forces. This UAV has a wingspan of 7 ft and a flight endurance of 40-60 minutes. It can carry payloads such as full color and infrared video cameras, FLIR sensors, and compact still cameras.
  • The Mercury-1is a surveillance drone used for aerial mapping by the Thai Geo-informatics and Space Technology Development Agency. This UAV comes in a half-scale and full-scale model. The half-scale model has wingspan of 18.5 ft and a flight endurance of 4 hours. The full-scale model has a wingspan of 36 ft and a flight duration of 12 hours. Both carry payloads of Day/Night vision cameras, FLIR cameras, and video gimbals.
  • The Zephyr-1is a surveillance drone used by the Thai Department of Special Investigations.This UAV has a wingspan of 7 ft and a flight endurance of 40 minutes. It can handle payloads of Day/Night vision cameras, FLIR cameras, and compact cameras.
  • The Boreas-1is a surveillance drone used by the Thai Department of Special Investigations. This is a multi-rotor UAV that comes in 4, 6, and 8 rotor forms and has a flight endurance of 20 minutes. It can handle payloads of Day/Night vision cameras, FLIR cameras, and DSLR cameras.  

G-Force Composites/Innocon

  • The G-Staris a surveillance drone used by the Royal Thai Airforce. This UAV has a wingspan of 8 ft and a flight endurance of 10 hours. It is equipped with electro-optical/infrared sensors although G-Force and Innocon have not specified the limitations of the G-Star’s payload and the UAV could possibly carry other equipment for reconnaissance purposes.


Civilian, Commercial, and Conservation

  • Last September, Kui Buri National Park and Tub Lan National Parkstarted using UAVs to survey forest land for illegal land encroachment.
  • In December 2013, Thai UAV handler @Cyberjomused his DJI to capture footage of anti-government protests. Cyberjom captured footage of violent encounters between protesters and riot cops.
  • Finish technology pioneer, Jani Hirvinen(formerly of Aeroquad Project and Arducopter), has started a unmanned aircraft company, jDrones, in Thailand. The company specializes in creating personalized commercial drones.

Read on: Faine Greenwood wrote for Slate Magazine that Thai drone regulations came “ironically at the same time as the proposal of Thailand’s new Cyber Security Bill,” a piece of legislation that would permit the mass-surveillance of online platforms and activities.