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Commercial Drones Taking To the Skies 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the crowdsourced-erosion-of-privacy dept.
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from the NY Times: "A new federal law, signed by the president on Tuesday, compels the Federal Aviation Administration to allow drones to be used for all sorts of commercial endeavors — from selling real estate and dusting crops, to monitoring oil spills and wildlife, even shooting Hollywood films. Local police and emergency services will also be freer to send up their own drones. But while businesses, and drone manufacturers especially, are celebrating the opening of the skies to these unmanned aerial vehicles, the law raises new worries about how much detail the drones will capture about lives down below — and what will be done with that information. Safety concerns like midair collisions and property damage on the ground are also an issue."
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Commercial Drones Taking To the Skies

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  • Directions please... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cornwallis (1188489) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @03:35PM (#39087085)

    Can anyone point me to a good EMP-type device that might work agains these things? I know the cops were experimenting with such a device to stop automobiles in their tracks.

  • by MindPrison (864299) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @03:39PM (#39087115) Journal

    I really don't want to go trough that old SD cliche...I for once, welcome...blahblah ;)

    Anyway, I'm actually for these drones, especially since I'm an avid hobbyist builder of all things robotic, so it's natural that it'd be okay to manufacture these as well and allow them to be used for useful purposes.

    Maybe this will be spearheading our future with flying vehicles, Müeller and his infamous sky-car didn't get off the ground due to technical issues, maybe due to MAKERS everywhere, we'll now get rid of the final safety bugs in the designs, and make headway for the very real thing.

  • by bugnuts (94678) on Saturday February 18, 2012 @06:36PM (#39088389) Journal

    I see worries in the comments about "the police using them to spy on civilians". They already can.

    The only thing a new law like this does is to fix a loophole. UAS and UAV systems can already be used by cops and state govs, by universities (limited), by companies developing experimental aircraft (limited), and for hobby purposes (unregulated, but there are some clear limitations such as flying within range of an airport or above buildings). But you cannot be legally paid to do aerial photography from a UAV/UAS! In other words, you have to pay a pilot to fly a photographer around to legally get aerial pictures. The only other option was using blimps (tethered) and cranes. An entire industry has evolved for erecting collapsible poles to attach cameras because of this rule.

    Here are the rules. [faa.gov] In it you'll find a letter with the common sense approach for hobbyists, and statements that the FAA will not grant companies any licenses to fly UAS except for experimental aircraft.

    Lastly, SHAME ON THE NYT for that last sentence. They just had to jump on the idiot bandwagon and imply a connection between terrorists and photography. [schneier.com]

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