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Feds Announce Test Sites For Drone Aircraft

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the robot-skies dept.

Government 78

SpaceGhost writes "The Associated Press reports: 'The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the march of the unmanned aircraft into U.S. skies.' The sites will be in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia. They quote Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx saying, 'These test sites will give us valuable information about how best to ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation's skies.' This is a first step to allowing commercial drone use."

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78 comments

Test sites or bases? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45822211)

Because given that they have drones in operation already means they've been tested.

I can't wait to pick up that can in City 17

Re:Test sites or bases? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45822381)

Obummer's coming to drone ya, brah.

Re:Test sites or bases? (2)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 4 months ago | (#45822815)

My first thought was....

"PULL"!!!

Re:Test sites or bases? (1)

scarboni888 (1122993) | about 3 months ago | (#45828703)

Not having ever shot a gun in my life or been around those who have I've always wondered why when I see them shooting their clay pigeons or skeet shooting or whatever is they say 'pull' to release the target.

What is it exactly they're pulling on?

I mean I'd understand it if the said that when pulling the trigger on the gun but they say 'pull' to release the target - well before the trigger 'pull'.

Any ideas?

Re:Test sites or bases? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45828983)

Usually there is a second person controlling the target launcher. The shooter is telling them that they are ready and to go ahead and throw a clay pigeon. (the second person can add some randomness to the launch - different direction, timing, or perhaps even two clays at once)

I think the original launcher equipment was located in front of the shooter, with a wire running to a safe location behind them. the second person would have to pull that wire to release the launch.

Eh? (3, Insightful)

dtmos (447842) | about 4 months ago | (#45822221)

I thought we'd been testing them in other nations' skies for a while now -- what more needs to be done?

problems calibrating vs targets lacking melanin (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45822295)

An oversight quickly to be resolved, to be sure.

Re:Eh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45823051)

That was just weapons testing. We still haven't quite hashed out all the ways to spy on civilians yet. Maybe some of those camera can't see through your house yet and need some work. Or maybe they won't be able to record your conversations as easily as expected. Or maybe they won't be able to infect computers with malware in massive quantities from miles above the earth [youtube.com], as speculated by Jake Applebaum.

These things all need to be hashed out. You know, for your own good.

Re:Eh? (3, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about 4 months ago | (#45823541)

What part of commercial drones do you not understand? It is not about testing drones as much as developing infrastructure and procedures for widespread civilian drone use.

Laws to protect us from drones? (3, Interesting)

EMG at MU (1194965) | about 4 months ago | (#45822291)

Does anyone else think that before we allow commercial drone use we should also start thinking about some laws on how drones can be used?

For example, should it be legal for an advertising company to buzz around my home with a drone based billboard?

Should Amazon or some other retailer be allowed to surveil me with a drone to compile my shopping habits and then make me offers?

Should my employer be able to use a drone to monitor if I am interviewing at a competitor?

We're in a bit of a privacy crisis right now partially due to the fact that online privacy laws were about 10 years behind the technology. Lets try to avoid that with drones.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45822355)

Regulation kills jobs. The free market will decide the best way to use drones. Job killer.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45822599)

Drones kill people. People buy things and pay taxes, which spurs the economy. The free market needs its consumers. Dead consumers will kill the free markets.

The best use of drones is to point them at our government offices and let our oppressors feel watched and hunted like the rest of us.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

MobSwatter (2884921) | about 4 months ago | (#45823353)

Drones do not kill people, people kill people.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

plopez (54068) | about 4 months ago | (#45823625)

When drones are outlawed only outlaws will have drones. The only way to stop a bad guy with a drone is with a good guy with a drone.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

MobSwatter (2884921) | about 4 months ago | (#45823905)

Nah, as a side effect to all the fear mongering to justify deficit spending, they have had Americans stockpiling guns and ammo for over a decade now. Soon they will have everyone so scared that they will shoot first and only stop shooting when nothing moves for fear of terrorists. Drones will likely attract gun advocates like social networks attract pedophiles and spooks, on a side note, someone should check the drone test site selections proximity to residential addresses of nudists, never can be too sure about this surveillance sickness bullcrap...

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45825621)

When drones are outlawed only outlaws will have drones. The only way to stop a bad guy with a drone is with a good guy with a drone.

Rhetorical statement!! Who is the "good guys" cops? fbi? any government agency for that matter? (sarcasm) no, no your right these people can't bad as bad if not worse then criminals, because they have badges.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 4 months ago | (#45822367)

Doesn't have to be a law, FAA regulation stating "Drones flying within X distance of residences cannot do surveillance and must be for delivery only" would suffice.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | about 4 months ago | (#45822463)

Yes because government regulation has proven to be SO effective everywhere else. The largest fine in the history of everything is still less than a quarter's profits on average. Corporations simply Do. Not. CARE. Pass all the regulations you want, they can AFFORD to break them and simply consider it the cost of business.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

Shatrat (855151) | about 4 months ago | (#45822525)

Regulation is not restricted to fines. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_System_divestiture [wikipedia.org]

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | about 4 months ago | (#45823137)

Right, if they had the balls to do that don't you think they would've done something about the six corporations that control 90% of all american media? Or pretty much ANY of the other abusive and collusive behaviors, like how cellphone companies behave?

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

icebike (68054) | about 4 months ago | (#45823385)

What number of corporations would be the "right" number for controlling 90% of american media?
How do you know these 6 corporations aren't already controlled by the government?
Have you seen more than one of these 6 corporations take a serious anti government stance on anything?

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (2)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 4 months ago | (#45822695)

Not a fine, pulling the corporation's FAA license to fly drones if they violate regulations.

Do you see Delta or United not caring about FAA regulations? Do they simply pay a fine out of their profits and consider that a cost of doing business? No. Because getting their license revoked means they have no business.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45822515)

Define "surveillance."
The drones will have to have cameras running in order to navigate, and the corporations are going to want to save the feed.
Is it surveillance when they film you?
When they save the film?
When they have a computer review the film to collect metadata?
How about when they have a flesh-and-blood human review the film?
The NSA's standards would be the latter, and my guess is that the Supreme Court will rule the same (eventually, when pressed).

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 4 months ago | (#45822747)

Define "surveillance."
The drones will have to have cameras running in order to navigate, and the corporations are going to want to save the feed.

They could define surveillance as when they save the feed, as you mentioned.

I would actually go further and say surveillance is when camera data is transmitted to base and/or saved to onboard storage. That way real-time monitoring is also prevented. Cameras should be for drone self-navigation purposes only.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45822839)

Same Anon here,
They could, but then the courts would just redefine "save." The Fourth Amendment was pretty clear, but they've managed to redefine it; FAA regulations would be much less controversial. Any law we can write, they can and will reinterpret. We're losing this one, sorry :/

Have a nice day, man.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

icebike (68054) | about 4 months ago | (#45823023)

You don't need cameras to navigate. Hint: GPS
There should be no discussion as to whether surveillance is what drone users desire here. Image/Video surveillance is the reason for drones in either government or industry.

Other than Amazon's grandiose schemes, there is just about no reason to put drones in the air except for surveillance. (Be if if people, or forests, or live stock, or pipelines, etc).

Removing surveillance from a Drone's inventory pretty much makes them useless, both to business or government. If you don't believe this, call their bluff by proposing drones not be allowed to carry any form of camera.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45823389)

You don't need cameras to navigate. Hint: GPS

Look up the details on the absolute accuracy of GPS, then feel free to drive your car by your GPS system with the windows blacked out.

Sure, driving can be a bit hairier than flying (especially in traffic on city streets), but even airports with zero-zero autoland systems have more than just GPS going for the planes.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

icebike (68054) | about 4 months ago | (#45823501)

What does that mean for drones, that are programmed to fly to a particular destination?
All the Navigation is done by GSP. 30 feet one way or the other doesn't matter.
We are not talking about landing or take off, but Navigation.

Also, nobody is talking about auto-land. These drones would be remotely flown for landing and take off, and landing "zero-zero" does not mean zero access to instruments.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45822877)

Doesn't have to be a law, FAA regulation stating "Drones flying within X distance of residences cannot do surveillance and must be for delivery only" would suffice.

Cannot do surveillance, eh? So are they supposed to fly these drones blind, or will this be another case of Google wifi illegal data harvesting? What exactly are delivery drones supposed to do with all of their video data? You're fucking high if you think they won't keep that video stream archived for liability purposes.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45822607)

For example, should it be legal for an advertising company to buzz around my home with a drone based billboard?
Goodyear blimp already flies over my house everyday

Should Amazon or some other retailer be allowed to surveil me with a drone to compile my shopping habits and then make me offers?
I dunno is it illegal to hire marketers to conduct surveys out there

Should my employer be able to use a drone to monitor if I am interviewing at a competitor?
I dunno is it illegal if they hire another human being (detective) to monitor your activities.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45822841)

Does anyone else think that before we allow commercial drone use we should also start thinking about some laws on how drones can be used?

No, no one at all has thought of that. Ever. Not the FAA, or even a single citizen or company. Drone manufacturers are going to spend hundreds of billions only to find out later they're outlawed.

For example, should it be legal for an advertising company to buzz around my home with a drone based billboard?

Jesus, talk about narcissistic. You really think that YOU are worth a billboard drone? I seriously hope we don't come to the point where drones are THAT affordable.

Should Amazon or some other retailer be allowed to surveil me with a drone to compile my shopping habits and then make me offers?

They won't need to. Amazon will use your shopping habits on their site or their many partner sites to compile that information. I highly doubt they're going to waste drones to survey YOUR backyard to find out if you need a new gas grill. They'll already know that you haven't bought one in the last 5 years from having all of your credit card info (yes, it's bought and sold between all of them, don't be ignorant)

Should my employer be able to use a drone to monitor if I am interviewing at a competitor?

Sure. And I'll gladly fly one into my CEO's backyard to find him with his mistress and send a copy of the video to his wife. Two can play that game. (Seriously, if any employer tried to pull that shit, it's time to look for another employer. And good luck keeping your employee base once that news spreads)

We're in a bit of a privacy crisis right now partially due to the fact that online privacy laws were about 10 years behind the technology. Lets try to avoid that with drones.

Wrong. We're in a bit of an apathy crisis right now, primarily due to the fact that the average citizen doesn't give a shit about any of this, and won't voice their opinions loud enough to arrest these kinds of abuses NOW before the drone armies come. The privacy issues are a result of this general malaise and apathy

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (2)

EMG at MU (1194965) | about 4 months ago | (#45822935)

Jesus, talk about narcissistic. You really think that YOU are worth a billboard drone? I seriously hope we don't come to the point where drones are THAT affordable.

You lack foresight. Its not a question of if drones become cheap enough to target individuals, its a question of when.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

ljw1004 (764174) | about 4 months ago | (#45822983)

Does anyone else think that before we allow commercial drone use we should also start thinking about some laws on how drones can be used?

No. Laws are like code. Don't optimize prematurely. Don't try to build a framework (in code or in laws) until you have several working examples and understand how things work in practice.

No regulations required, just permissions (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 4 months ago | (#45823301)

For example, should it be legal for an advertising company to buzz around my home with a drone based billboard?

All drone issues are solved if you simply implement the Colorado law allowing people to purchase drone hunting licenses. If a drone is doing something anyone dislikes, it will be removed from the sky legally. That should put a big cap on annoying uses of drones and frankly I'm not sure there would be any left between the people annoyed and those hunting the drones just for the hell of it.

Re:No regulations required, just permissions (1)

dougmc (70836) | about 3 months ago | (#45831731)

That law was a joke. At best it would protect you from municipal ordinances against shooting at unmanned aircraft, but would do nothing to prevent state or federal charges, or a civil lawsuit.

The FAA has a strong interest in keeping people from firing weapons at aircraft, and some city in Colorado isn't going to override that.

What would be the point? (1)

Marrow (195242) | about 4 months ago | (#45823527)

There will be nobody enforcing the laws. There will be no prosecutions. Any law enacted will be solely for the purposes of a generating a comforting soundbite on the news. So lets not bother.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 4 months ago | (#45823999)

Who cares, as long as it's legal to shoot them out of the sky [npr.org].

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

dougmc (70836) | about 3 months ago | (#45831751)

It's not. Those permits were a joke, possibly literally.

And even if that city says it's OK because you have a permit, that won't override the state or federal laws that prohibit firing at aircraft or destroying other people's property. (It might override local ordinances against discharging of firearms in city limits, for example, depending on how it was written and what the local laws are, however.)

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 3 months ago | (#45837495)

Dunno man, I feel ya and all, but, uhh... Bring by an advertizement by way of drone to my house, and let's roll the dice. I live in a neighborhood that's very twisty; houses close together. If that drone that was sent over was shot down, it'd be impossible to determine who shot it down (I live in Alabama, guns grow on trees), and if the fucking thing(s) fall onto my property, and any damage occurs, I'd be forced to look to the drone-owner to recover the costs associated with repairing my stuff. In any court room in Alabama, the 12 jurors will all vote in my favor, no doubt.

Like the OP says, we need to go ahead and get the laws into place. All I was was doing was reminding everyone that if we can simply shoot them down, then it's sorta put in place a natural balance between what would be done with drones, and what should be done with drones. Because if drones are used to advertize to us, then they'd have to be pretty low to the ground to do so. I'd say no more than 500 feet - certainly reachable by a rifle. Anything over 500 feet may be acceptable - this is my opinion.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (1)

dougmc (70836) | about 3 months ago | (#45850369)

There's a huge difference between "it would be hard to find out who to charge with a crime" and "it's legal".

And yes, if a object crashes into your house and damages it, the owner or operator is probably liable for the damages. This is not specific to unmanned aircraft -- it applies to manned aircraft and even to things like cars or errant golf balls too.

In any event, I'm no lawyer, but my advice would be to not fire at aircraft flying above your property, no matter how low they may be, how justified you may feel you are or how unlikely you think it is that they could prove it was you. A smarter plan of action would be to call the police if it's causing a problem.

Re:Laws to protect us from drones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45827131)

There is no need for new laws. If you can't do it with a plane or helicopter, you can't do it with a drone. Whether the pilot in in the vehicle or not is irrelevant.

Texas? (1)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | about 4 months ago | (#45822363)

I'm guessing that they chose Texas because they want to see how many people turn the test into a skeet shooting contest.

Re:Texas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45822625)

Odd given Texas banned drones earlier this year. (Except for law enforcement of course).

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/09/14/texas-law-gets-tough-on-public-private-drone-use/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/14/texas-drones-law_n_3926849.html

Alternative Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45822617)

"Feds Announce New Tax-Payer Funded Skeet Ranges"

ermm ....??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45822641)

Also an introduction of CIA to feds jurisdiction...

The FAA is NOT concerned with PRIVACY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45822849)

If you take a look at THIS http://www.regulations.gov/contentStreamer?objectId=090000648147d799&disposition=attachment&contentType=pdf [regulations.gov] page, you'll see OVER AND OVER again that the FAA is NOT going to invoke privacy into the drone test program, and they are NOT invoking authority over privacy matters. They're leaving it up to local jurisdictions to have privacy laws. However, it appears from the regulations mentioned above that if you file charges they'll CONSIDER revoking that site's authorizations to fly.

anything missing here? (1)

nimbius (983462) | about 4 months ago | (#45823123)

conspicuously absent from this report is any mention of what is driving the clear push for domestic drones in the first place. Is it "terror" this time? the "war on drugs" or our sterling history of handouts and taxpayer subsidy to the defense department regardless of domestic economic considerations.

dont be surprised if domestic drone sites, and sales, are being pushed by the same doublespeak politicians who for the entire first term of the democratic presidency have railed against entitlements, welfare programs, and labor.

Re:anything missing here? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45823701)

When I was in Alaska, I flew with bush pilots delivering things like mail and hay to remote locations in the winter and inaccessible by land. Using drones would be a perfect system for these types of tasks. Why pay a pilot in an expensive plane using hundreds of liters of fuel when the same thing could be done with a small drone with a payload capability of 100kg and a range of 500km. A plane that small would only use a couple liters of fuel and would be on call 24 hours/day.

A "drone" is nothing more than an airplane with a next generation autopilot.

And no tail number or accountability (1)

Marrow (195242) | about 4 months ago | (#45823907)

A pilot has a license and has to be tested and qualify. And he risks losing his livelyhood if he misbehaves with a plane. He risks his life too. These drones have no geometry for mounting a tail identification. And the operator has no license to put in jeopardy. He can even claim that the unit was on autofly at the time of an incident. Or he can claim that someone else was operating or interfering with the operation of the aircraft. Therefore there is no accountability.

Re:And no tail number or accountability (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 4 months ago | (#45825667)

Therefore there is no accountability.

You really need to have a talk with your lawyer.

Re:And no tail number or accountability (1)

Marrow (195242) | about 4 months ago | (#45825833)

How so?

Re:And no tail number or accountability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45834119)

Cause some damage with a drone and you'll find out if there's accountability.

Re:anything missing here? (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about 4 months ago | (#45824717)

anything missing here?

Yes. You, bothering to read TFA. This isn't about eeeevil gubmint drones spying on you. It's about studying how commercial and academic operators (like crop sprayers, people doing aerial photography or using a drone on a film set, university researchers studying wildlife and environment, etc) can be integrated into the highly regulated air space. Read before you rant.

Keep posting anti-NSA and.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45823257)

Keep posting anti-NSA shit and your home will be one of the test sites. Oops. That missile was supposed to be a dummy.

Re:Keep posting anti-NSA and.. (1)

MobSwatter (2884921) | about 4 months ago | (#45823337)

That appears to be a threat of launching a missile on U.S. soil against a U.S. citizen, my how perverse it can be, lets see how far you will go, Coward.

Suggestion Box for Drone Testing (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 months ago | (#45823293)

As a Bears fan, I would like to suggest a certain practice facility near Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Actually one of the test sites is on Cape Cod (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45825045)

Former home to a squadron of F-16's

Joint Base Cape Cod named commercial drone testing site
http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20131230/NEWS/131239965

Oregon and Hawaii thanks to University of Alaska (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45825441)

http://www.khon2.com/news/hawaii-among-test-sites-for-drones

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