The same type of unmanned drones used in Afghan and Pakistani war zones
may be coming to the U.S. According to the Associated Press
groups and conservative politicians in Texas are pressuring the Federal
Aviation Administration to expand the legality of drones in the U.S. The
proposed uses include law enforcement (e.g. patrolling borders and
spotting drug smugglers) and civilian functions. Here are the pros and
- Drones Offer Quite a Lot, writes Noel Brinkerhoff at AllGov: "The
ability of the pilotless aircraft to fly up to 20 hours at a time makes
them attractive to law enforcement. Other proponents of drones include
tornado researchers who want to send them into storms to gather data;
energy companies seeking to monitor pipelines; and police pursuing
suspects in cars." There are other advantages too, adds Soda Head News: " They come in a
variety of sizes, from jumbo jet to tiny ones that could fit through a
window and they can do the dangerous, dirty jobs humans would rather
avoid. Plus, they cost less to keep in the air than piloted planes."
Are Some Pressing Concerns Though, writes Joan Lowy at The Associated Press: "The
FAA’s... afraid that the unmanned drones might crash into cargo planes,
airliners and corporate jets at high altitudes, or hot air balloons and
helicopters closer to the ground. It also worries about loss of
communication and the lack of warning systems
- Safety Comes First, says Hank Krakowski, the head of the
FAA's air traffic operations: "I think industry and some of the
operators are frustrated that we're not moving fast enough, but safety
is first... This isn't Afghanistan. This isn't Iraq. This is a part of
the world that has a lot of light airplanes flying around, a lot of
- U.S. Should Approve Drones on a Narrow Basis,
writes The Advertiser-Tribune:
"There's no reason the agency can't expand the use of drones for border
patrol or allow the Coast Guard to use them for search-and-rescue
missions. We recommend authorities consider gradually expanding the
roles that unmanned aircraft can perform. That way, safety concerns can
be assessed and addressed before allowing more duties."
Could Happen Next Year, writes Jason Paur at Wired: "The FAA says it
will propose new rules for smaller unmanned aircraft like the ScanEagle
sometime early next year. These smaller aircraft could be used for
security, border patrol and civilian tasks like pipeline inspections, monitoring
forest fires and weather observations."
- Exit Quip
"Think of how great car chase videos will be when we can watch criminals
not simply get pulled over, but explode into a ball of flame on the
freeway! Pure entertainment," writes Jeff Neumann at Gawker.
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