As the number of drones and unmanned aircraft increases, there has been a call for regulations to protect both public safety and to preserve public privacy.
So what does this mean for the drone users out there?
Too Many Regulations Can Harm The Growing Industry
Drone advocates agree that it would b a big mistake to the growing UAV industry to put too many rules and regulations on drone usage – up to the point of economic disadvantage.
In some states such as Rhode Island, the drone debate has been brought before lawmakers – impacting some big drone companies such as XactSense, a company from Warwick, RI that produces drone equipment.
“I hope Rhode Island will take the chance to embrace this technology, allow it to flourish and allow high-tech jobs to flourish in the state,” said Andy Trench, founder of XactSense. “This will be the dawn of the commercial [Unmanned Aerial Vehicle] era. Over-regulating before knowing the full potential would be a huge mistake.” – Providence Journal
The Future of Drone Laws
The biggest issues for those seeking more drone legislature include “confidentiality risks,” such as the use of drones would allow for public flight over private areas that are otherwise protected on the ground. For example, watershed organizations and preservation groups have urged lawmakers to prohibit UAV usage with the fear of “sabotage” of these protected areas.
There are other environmental groups who are concerned about drones damaging property, such as colliding with wind turbines or buildings.
There are a few categories of issues that drone laws intend to cover:
- Updating existing aviation regulations to cover drones and unmanned aircraft
- Protecting personal privacy
- Improving drone safety
- Creating specific penalties for malicious drone use
Regulation of Drones and UAVs
The Federal Aviation Administration is the primary regulator of aviation – including manned and unmanned aircraft – but there are some UAV professionals that have questioned if the FAA should have the type of authority to restrict / prosecute drones.
State governments have also been involved, pushing back on drone users. Most states do not have the power to prohibit flight, set altitude restrictions, or create a drone registry. Several states are pushing to have the power to limit flying behavior including making requirements to seek permission before flying a drone in certain areas as well as requiring people to register their drones with the state. Many prohibit flight around airports, government buildings, military bases, schools, colleges, and universities.
With almost 400,000 drones registered nationwide, it will be interesting to see how laws will impact the UAV industry.
Other articles about Drone Law:
“R.I. House panel weighs regulation of growing drone industry” – The Providence Journal, Providence, RI
Drones: What you need to know – KYMA-TV, Yuma, AZ
Some warn drone bill to protect privacy may ground all unmanned aircraft – Omaha.com, Omaha, NE