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Monday, December 30, 2013

If You Live in Any of These States, Keep an Eye on the Sky

The BBC reports that the FAA has announced which six states will have test sites for the "testing commercial use of drones."  Those states are: Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia.

Describing the purpose of these test sites, the BBC reports:

The biggest chunk of the expected growth in the commercial drone industry is currently expected to be for agriculture and law enforcement.

Police and other emergency services could use them for crowd control, taking crime scene photos or for search and rescue missions.

It can cost a police department hundreds of dollars an hour to deploy a helicopter, while an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) can be sent into the skies for as little as $25 an hour.

Farmers, meanwhile, might find it easier to spray crops or survey livestock with the pilotless aircraft.
I have a few of my own remarks on this.

Notably absent from this list is the state of Colorado.  As I noted in this previous post, Colorado was one of the states applying to have a drone testing site.  This application was not without backlash, with the town of Deer Trail, Colorado proposing an ordinance that would grant drone hunting licenses to residences, and reward residents for shooting down federal drones.

It also looks like the Alaska test site actually consists of several sites, identified by the University of Alaska, with different climates "from Hawaii to Oregon," so people outside of the six states identified in this article may not be entirely free from drone activity.

Finally, I am not sure why Iowa is not on the list.  If the government seriously is considering agriculture as a use for drones, then Iowa would be an excellent place to test this out.  Moreover, Iowa would offer an excellent setting to test drones' abilities to operate in weather that changes drastically over the course of a year.  For these reasons, I think that Iowa could fulfill all of the roles of North Dakota's test site (reportedly to test the "human impact" of drones, and how drones function in "temperate climates").

And while some Iowa cities (like Iowa City) may ban the use of drones, there are still plenty of people that these drones could bother the "human impact" of drones could be tested in other towns like Ames.

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