Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS), also known as drones, are aircraft either controlled by ‘pilots’ from the ground or increasingly, autonomously following a pre-programmed mission. Used mostly in the U.S. Military, drones have become a big issue in America because now more than 18 Police Departments use them. Drones used in the states however are not armed with military issued weapons.
According to Joan Lowy from the Associated Press, Privacy laws urgently need to be updated to protect the public from information-gathering by the thousands of civilian drones expected to be flying in U.S. skies in the next decade or so, legal experts told a Senate panel Wednesday. The Federal Aviation Administration recently predicted about 7,500 civilian drones will be in use within five years after the agency grants them greater access to U.S. skies. Congress has directed the FAA to provide drones with widespread access to domestic airspace by 2015, but the agency is behind in its development of safety regulations and isn’t expected to meet that deadline.
The Starkville Police Department has new police drones thanks to a close partnership with Mississippi State University, the SPD will have three different state of the art robotics at its fingertips. MSU is one of the first schools that let the police department use drones around campus.
The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources wanted to fly a two-pound toy helicopter with a camera attached over remote marshland to monitor invasive species. However, the FAA regulators for a using a toy helicopter are the same rules for predator drones, meaning that they weren’t allowed to use the drone without a professional pilot and observer.
“The whole beginning of this was that we got the idea that we could use a remote control helicopter to find invasive plants in places where it became impossible to go by boat,” said Mike Pursley, DMR’s aquatic invasive species coordinator and field project manager.