The chief of the Federal Aviation Administration predicted Thursday that U.S. airspace could be crowded with as many as 7,500 commercial drones within the next five years. As The Washington Times reports, Michael Huerta said his agency would set up six sites across the country to test drone operators and, in an effort to balance privacy/safety with anarchic airspace drone pollution, he added, "we must fulfill those obligations in a thoughtful, careful manner that ensures safety and promotes economic growth, " as dangerous incidents involving drones have already taken place...
Although they are expected to be used for peaceful purposes such as firefighting and weather tracking - it's causing a lot of concern, as Huerta warns "we need to be responsive to public concerns about privacy."
You'll never notice it from the ground, but the skies above the US are crowded with roughly five thousand planes at any given moment. The daily total of movements, is up to a whopping 90,000. And dangerous incidents involving drones have already taken place there - as Gayane Chichakyan reveals...
Within the next five years, after appropriate regulations are introduced, whole 7,500 small UAVs will be operating in US airspace, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said at an aerospace news conference in Washington on Thursday.
Huerta outlined the ultimate goal of the American drone industry: global leadership that could enable the US to set standards for the industry worldwide.
"We recognize that the expanding use of unmanned aircraft presents great opportunities, but it's also true that integrating these aircraft presents significant challenges,"
Huerta shared some interesting statistics on who is using drones in the US the most. He mentioned that apart from synoptics, environmental specialists and educational institutions, there are about 80 law enforcement agencies that operate small size surveillance drones, with the FAA granting each of them public use waivers on a case-by-case basis.
“If we’re going to take full advantage of the benefits that we’re talking about from these technologies, we need to be responsive to public concerns about privacy,” Huerta said.
Reportedly, not only the FAA, but also Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of justice are taking part in a multi-agency group that has also released a comprehensive plan accelerating integration of UAVs into US national airspace. All data gathered by the six test sites will go straight to that interagency group, Huerta said.
And focused on privacy...
(via The Washington Times)
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems, the leading trade group for the nation’s private-sector drone operators, estimated this year that the commercial drone industry will create more than 100,000 jobs and generate more than $82 billion in economic impact over the next 10 years — if the government moves quickly to establish workable operating regulations and safeguards.
The impending boom has raised concerns among privacy advocates about how and where drones might be used to collect data. The FAA is requiring future test sites to develop privacy plans and make them available to the public. The policy also requires test site operators to disclose how data will be obtained and used.
“Make no mistake about it, privacy is an extremely important issue and it is something that the public has a significant interest and concern over and we need to recognize as an industry that if we are going to take full advantage of the benefits that we are talking about for these technologies we need to be responsive to the public’s concerns about privacy,” Mr. Huerta said.