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FCW : May 15, 2014
Unmanned aircraft systems are steadily spreading from military and intelligence missions to civilian agencies, but it can be a bumpy ride SEND IN TH D rones, UAVs, UAS — call them what you will, remotely piloted aircraft are poised to make huge inroads in the national airspace. And although public perception might link unmanned aircraft systems with intelligence agencies and the military, the federal government’s UAS user base extends well beyond spies and soldiers. Agencies as diverse as NASA, Customs and Border Protection, and the Forest Service are all experimenting with UAS and deploying the systems in novel ways. Drones “can reach hard-to-fl y areas and maneuver well at low altitudes,” 16 May 15, 2014 FCW.COM said Jeff Sloan, a UAS operator at the U.S. Geological Survey. “They give us data there’s no way you could get with a manned aircraft.” NASA is sending drones through hurricanes and volcanic plumes to collect data, while USGS is using the technology to map changing landscapes. The Border Patrol is scanning for lawbreakers from above, and the Forest Service hopes to better monitor the spread of wildfi res. Drones might soon be able to effectively deliver critical supplies in disaster and searchand-rescue situations. In short, the technology can save money, provide superior data and keep people out of harm’s way. Nevertheless, civilian agencies’ adoption of UAS is not a straight path forward, and regulatory hurdles and institutional caution are slowing the technology’s adoption. Regulatory restrictions One major impediment to faster drone adoption is the Federal Aviation Administration. Charged with regulating the nation’s airspace, the agency is naturally reticent to open the drone fl oodgates. And the FAA’s reach extends further than many think. In a recent myth-busting release,
April 30, 2014
May 30, 2014