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FAA Shuts Down Search-and-Rescue Drones 218

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-hire-some-people-who-understand-technology dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For about a decade, Gene Robinson has been putting cameras on remote-controlled model aircraft and using them in search-and-rescue missions. But now the Federal Aviation Administration has shut him down, saying his efforts violate a ban on flying RC aircraft for commercial purposes. Robinson doesn't charge the families of the people he's looking for, and he created a non-profit organization to demonstrate that. He also coordinates with local authorities and follows their guidelines to the letter. The FAA shut him down because they haven't designed regulations to deal with situations like this, even though they've been working on it since 2007. 'So it's difficult to argue that his flights are more dangerous than what goes on every weekend at RC modeling sites throughout the United States, which can include flights of huge models that weigh 10 times as much as Robinson's planes; aerial stunts of nitromethane-fueled model helicopters; and the low-altitude, 500-kilometer-per-hour passes in front of spectators of model jets powered by miniature turbine engines.'"
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FAA Shuts Down Search-and-Rescue Drones

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  • Re:Fuck the FAA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @01:46PM (#46734523) Homepage

    Always ask for forgiveness rather than permission.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 12, 2014 @01:55PM (#46734593)

    you know emigration is possible,its time to start fleeing to first world countries guys that shit hole is falling apart

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @02:05PM (#46734649) Journal

    And they're nowhere near coming up with guidelines, as I'm pretty sure there's honestly no way to do this AND maintain current safety levels.

    Current guidelines already include rc aircraft. The only difference here is 'commercial.' The FCC has guidelines for non-commercial use, but haven't done anything for commercial use.

    This is something that is bothering a lot of people, but this particular guy is becoming the face of the problem for political reasons, because if you want to get something done, it is easier to show someone with a sympathetic cause that can get people outraged.

    This is similar to calling some group of people bigots. The FCC is an anti-search-and-rescue bigot.

  • by DaMattster (977781) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @02:31PM (#46734815)
    In fact, if your radio controlled aircraft is operating on HAM bands then you can probably, successfully argue emergency and disaster assistance. I know because I am a General-class HAM radio operator.
  • by craighansen (744648) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @02:53PM (#46734967)

    Under the regulations (or lack of regulations) under which this guy is being shut down, drone package delivery would certainly be considered a commercial activity and ruled to be illegal. Amazon's drone program is clearly dependent upon a change of regulation to be viable.

    I'm not at all clear how this is to be considered a commercial activity. It isn't commerce in the sense of money changing hands between the service provider and the beneficial recepient. It isn't commerce in the sense of operating for profit. The only basis I can imagine is that it's because it has a _purpose_, it's not just flying around for the f**k of it. Consequently, if it has a beneficial purpose, it has a reason to be allowed, and therefore it needs to be ruled illegal, so that it won't get in the way of having the FAA make whatever regulations they please. It's my tax dollars being wasted in the worst way.

  • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Saturday April 12, 2014 @08:04PM (#46736767) Homepage

    Current guidelines already include rc aircraft. The only difference here is 'commercial.' The FCC has guidelines for non-commercial use, but haven't done anything for commercial use.

    And the "guidelines" they have for this non-commercial use of R/C planes that you're referring to [faa.gov] says nothing of commercial or non-commercial use, and it's *advisory* -- not binding.

    The FAA is basically just making up their rules as they go along, and they can't even bother to write them down so that people will know what the rules are. Instead, people get letters from the FAA saying that they're breaking the rules. Now, from that, people have sort of deduced what these unwritten rules are now, but it's still messed up.

    Which is probably what prompted this ruling against the FAA [mashable.com] ... they can't enforce laws that they haven't even made yet. (That said, they continue to try, and other courts may agree with them. But they could fix this by actually writing down their rules and making them official.)

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