The FAA has announced that six states have been chosen for the testing of commercial drones. Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia have been chosen to host sites that will develop safety protocols and operational rules for commercial drones. The program will be complete by the end of 2015.
So the people in these states will now have to put up with drones flying overhead as researchers figure out how to make them safe for commercial use. That implies they are not currently safe for use. How many accidents and incidents are there going to be over the next two years?
Will testing of the drones, which we all know are going to be used for law enforcement, mean that the residents of these states are going to be subjected to warrantless spying and invasion of privacy so that the scientists can get the right settings for the real roll out?
This project is nothing more than a test run for the government who are intent on watching our every move. Once the masses are used to seeing “delivery drones’ or ‘crop spraying drones’ in the sky normalcy bias will set in, and we are done for.
How easy it would be to add a camera to the ‘farmer drone’ that dusts crops. Those who have chosen to live off the beaten path in relative isolation and privacy are about to have that privacy violated.
You can call a drone whatever you like, power company survey drone, farmer drone, law enforcement drone or delivery drone, the name doesn’t matter. What matters is that these flying lumps of technology can be programmed to do whatever their ‘handlers’ want them to do. Old farmer Fred might be legitimately using them for crop dusting, he will most likely have no idea that aerial photographs of his neighbours property is getting transmitted back to mission control.
Pizzas R Us may will have no idea that as well as delivering a Mighty Meat Feast with four cheese topping they are beaming back information about the guy ordering the pizza and where he lives, as well as the phone number or email address he used to place the order.
Drone technology is so open to abuse it doesn’t bear thinking about and the legislation that has just been passed to allow this limited rollout of the eye in the sky is just the beginning.
Full statement from the FAA:
After a rigorous 10-month selection process involving 25 proposals from 24 states, the Federal Aviation Administration has chosen six unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research and test site operators across the country.
In selecting the six test site operators, the FAA considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk. In totality, these six test applications achieve cross-country geographic and climatic diversity and help the FAA meet its UAS research needs.
A brief description of the six test site operators and the research they will conduct into future UAS use are below:
- University of Alaska. The University of Alaska proposal contained a diverse set of test site range locations in seven climatic zones as well as geographic diversity with test site range locations in Hawaii and Oregon. The research plan includes the development of a set of standards for unmanned aircraft categories, state monitoring and navigation. Alaska also plans to work on safety standards for UAS operations.
- State of Nevada.Nevada’s project objectives concentrate on UAS standards and operations as well as operator standards and certification requirements. The applicant’s research will also include a concentrated look at how air traffic control procedures will evolve with the introduction of UAS into the civil environment and how these aircraft will be integrated with NextGen. Nevada’s selection contributes to geographic and climatic diversity.
- New York’s Griffiss International Airport. Griffiss International plans to work on developing test and evaluation as well as verification and validation processes under FAA safety oversight. The applicant also plans to focus its research on sense and avoid capabilities for UAS and its sites will aid in researching the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested, northeast airspace.
- North Dakota Department of Commerce. North Dakota plans to develop UAS airworthiness essential data and validate high reliability link technology. This applicant will also conduct human factors research. North Dakota’s application was the only one to offer a test range in the Temperate (continental) climate zone and included a variety of different airspace which will benefit multiple users.
- Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. Texas A&M plans to develop system safety requirements for UAS vehicles and operations with a goal of protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing. The selection of Texas A&M contributes to geographic and climactic diversity.
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). Virginia Tech plans to conduct UAS failure mode testing and identify and evaluate operational and technical risks areas. This proposal includes test site range locations in both Virginia and New Jersey.
Across the six applicants, the FAA is confident that the agency’s research goals of System Safety & Data Gathering, Aircraft Certification, Command & Control Link Issues, Control Station Layout & Certification, Ground & Airborne Sense & Avoid, and Environmental Impacts will be met.
Each test site operator will manage the test site in a way that will give access to parties interested in using the site. The FAA’s role is to ensure each operator sets up a safe testing environment and to provide oversight that guarantees each site operates under strict safety standards.
From the start, the FAA recognized it was important to have requirements ensuring that privacy and civil liberties are protected at the test sites. Among other requirements, test site operators must comply with federal, state, and other laws protecting an individual’s right to privacy, have publicly available privacy policies and a written plan for data use and retention, and conduct an annual review of privacy practices that allows for public comment.
Under the current law, test site operations will continue until at least February 13, 2017.
For more information goto http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/uas/.
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Contributed by Chris Carrington of The Daily Sheeple.
Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up!