Private Drones Could Fly Over US by 2015: FAA
But agency roadmap doesn't set out privacy rules
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2013 12:48 AM CST
US Customs Border Patrol Air and Marine Division Deputy Director Supervisory AIA Pete McNall checks the camera on a Predator drone unmanned aerial vehicle at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(Newser) – The FAA has unveiled a roadmap for introducing private drones operated by companies, universities, and even individual hobbyists to US skies by 2015—but the road might be a bumpy one. The agency, behind schedule on a deadline set by Congress, says it is working on very complicated regulations that will make it safe for unmanned aircraft to share the skies with manned ones and there could be 7,500 small drones aloft within five years, the Los Angeles Times reports. Some 24 states have applied to host tests during which federal safety inspectors can evaluate drones.

The roadmap does not address privacy concerns, except at the test sites, the AP notes, but even that mention shows the FAA now realizes "privacy is a necessary consideration," an expert in robotics law says "That is part of a change from when they were saying, 'We are not about privacy. We are really all about safety.'" For now, drone use will be approved on a case-by-case basis and the first FAA-approved commercial drone flight has already taken place: Oil firm ConocoPhillips flew a drone off northwest Alaska in September as part of a pre-drilling environmental impact study.

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Ezekiel 25:17
Nov 10, 2013 11:59 AM CST
For the past four years at NAB in Las Vegas, Raytheon has marketed their military UAV to media outlets. As far as I can tell, nobody has taken them up on it.
Nov 8, 2013 6:07 PM CST
"If I had a rocket launcher, I'd retaliate".... Bruce Cockburn Make no mistake, some people in the US already do...... PS. Great Song.....
Ezekiel 25:17
Nov 8, 2013 12:31 PM CST
Its highly limited right now. We tried to deploy small 6-foot wide observation aircraft to survey the tornado damage in May of this year. We do the same for wild fires and it saves hundreds of thousands of state and federal dollars not having to deploy so many helicopters for the same purpose that also have onboard telemetry and camera systems. In fact, every disaster going back about 20 years has been surveyed by helicopters equipped with camera systems. Your major city has a helicopter looking into your junk everyday and you never complain. So we wanted to deploy these small UAV's and the FAA said we couldn't. So, instead, we spent the federal FEMA funds to launch helicopters to do the same job at $$$$.