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Risk and reward at the dawn of civilian drone age

WASHINGTON (AP) â?? The dawn of the age of civil UAV air is rich with opportunities for people outside war zones where they have marked as a devas...


WASHINGTON (AP) â?? The dawn of the age of civil UAV air is rich with opportunities for people outside war zones where they have marked as a devastating weapon of choice against terrorists.

unmanned aircraft generally small can direct water and pesticides on crops accurately, saving farmers money while reducing environmental risks. They can inspect bridges distance pipelines and electric lines and find the hurricane victims stranded on rooftops.

Drones â?? some as small as a hummingbird?? promise benefits everyday as wide as the sky is huge. But the drone industry and those for its potential to run headlong into the fears of voyeurism eyes utilize mat technology will be abused.

Since January, drone-related legislation introduced in more than 30 countries, mainly in response to privacy. Most accounts to prevent police use of drones for monitoring general public or to people watch, no reason to believe that they have been involved in crimes.

Stephen Ingley, director of the Airborne Law Enforcement Association, said the resistance technology frustrating. Drones “has a lot of potential to save lives, and it’s a damn shame that we have to go through this time,” he said.

privacy advocates say

But now it’s time for the proper use of civilian drones to discuss and set rules before they are ubiquitous. Sense to reduce domestic drone made left and right, and perhaps more than any other recent issue.

“The idea of ​​government drones buzzing about and constantly monitor the activities of law-abiding citizens is contrary to the notion of what it means to live in a free society,” Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa , during a recent hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

With the reduction of military budgets, officials have drones based on the civilian market in order to stimulate growth in the industry. Some companies that drones or ancillary equipment and services to supply produce average uncertainty led them to expansion into the United States to wait, and they are looking for new markets abroad.

“Our lack of success in educating the public about unmanned aircraft back to haunt us,” said Robert Fitzgerald, CEO of GOSH Newport News, Virginia, which provides support services users drones.

“The United States is at the forefront of this technology for a long time,” he said. “While our government takes this technology, there is freedom to move and … suddenly these things flying everywhere and compete with us.”


must be one of the largest markets for the first civilian drones. Last month, the FBI uses drones for continuous monitoring of a bunker in Alabama where a 5 year old boy hostage.

In Virginia, the state of the General Assembly adopted a bill that a two-year moratorium would impose on the use of drones by the application of national and local laws. The measure is supported by groups as diverse as the American Civil Liberties Union on the left and the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation on the right.

Governor Bob McDonnell’s amendments to the general prohibition on spy drones to retain suggests, but allows specific exceptions as life is in danger, such as search and rescue operations. The resumption of the legislature on 3 April to discuss the issue.

Seattle has abandoned the drone program after protests from the community in February. City Police Department had purchased two drones through a federal grant without consulting the Board.

Congress, Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., Co-chair of the House privacy caucus a bill that the Federal Aviation Administration prohibits licenses drones unless the applicant a statement of administrator of the drone, which it will be stolen, what kind of information is collected, how the information will be used, if the information is sold to third parties and the period for which the information will be retained.

privacy advocates aware of the many benign uses drones. In Mesa County, Colorado, for example, an annual survey of the cost of landfill manned aircraft was approximately $ 10,000. The County has recently same survey using a drone for about $ 200.

drones could help police find missing persons, reconstruct accidents and act as spotters for SWAT teams. Brokers may videos of the film properties and the surrounding areas, offers customers a better view as the crow flies is that if the neighbors do not want to be shared.

“Any law that the use of this kind of ability to serve the public brings the public at risk limits,” said Steve Gitlin, vice president of AeroVironment, a leading manufacturer of small drones.

However, the virtues of drones can also be dangerous, privacy advocates say. The low cost and ease of use can promote police and others to the nature of the control or intrusive that otherwise might not be practical to lead.

Drones can be equipped with high-powered cameras and listening devices and infrared cameras that people can see in the dark.

“high-rise buildings, security fencing or walls of a building are no barriers to technology drone more often,” Amie Stepanovich, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Project Monitoring Council, told the Senate committee.

drone use is limited to the civilian government agencies and public universities have received hundreds allow the FAA. A law passed by Congress last year, the FAA requires that the U.S. air opening for drones theft on a large scale in 2015, but the agency’s late and it is unlikely that it will meet this deadline. Legislators and industry representatives have complained for years about the slow progress of the FAA.

The FAA estimates that in five years greater access approximately 7,500 civilian drones could be used.

Although the Supreme Court has not directly addressed drones, he OK’d aerial surveillance without warrants in drug cases where agents in an airplane or helicopter spotted marijuana plants growing on the property of a suspect.

But in a case concerning the use of ground equipment, the court said that the police generally have a search warrant for the use of a thermal imaging device to hot spots to detect in a house that could indicate that the marijuana plants are grown there.

In some states have overshadowed economic interests public inconvenience. In Oklahoma, a bill anti-drone was abandoned at the request of Governor Mary Fallin Republican, who was involved, it may hinder the growth of the industry drone of the state. The state of North Dakota Senate has slain a bill drone in part because it could hamper the chances of the state to be selected by the Federal Aviation Administration as one of the six national test sites drones, which could generate local employment.

A bill that would have limited the ability of state and local governments to drones died in Washington Legislature to use. The measure was opposed by the Boeing Company, which has more than 80,000 state employees and has a subsidiary, Insitu is a leading manufacturer of military drones.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Recently drew attention to the domestic use of drones, when he staged an obstruction of the Senate, demanding to know whether the President has the power to use drones as a weapon to kill Americans on American soil. The White House said no, if the person is not engaged in combat. Industry representatives fear that the episode could temporarily down drone civilian use.

“The opposition was very strong,” said Gitlin of AeroVironment, “but we are confident that over time the benefits of these solutions will far outweigh the drawbacks, and they will be part of normal life in the future. “


Associated Press writer Michael Felberbaum in Richmond, Va., contributed to this report.


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