With billions at stake, states lobby for drone test sites

By Audrey Cheng, Alyssa Howard and Tom Meyer

Test Sites- Drone Photo

The Federal Aviation Administration will pick six sites by the end of the year to test how best to integrate drones into the national airspace by 2015. Intended to create a procedure to ensure drones are used safely, the sites also have the potential to pump tens of billions of dollars in economic benefits into the states that land test sites.

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Uncertainties remain as FAA integrates drones into U.S. skies; number of drones may hit 30,000 by 2020

By Josh Solomon

WASHINGTON – Thousands of unmanned aircraft systems—commonly known as drones—could be buzzing around in U.S. airspace by 2015 because of a law passed last year, raising both safety and privacy concerns among some lawmakers and advocacy groups.

Already, drones are in use counting sea lions in Alaska, monitoring drug trafficking across our borders and conducting weather and environmental research. In fact, 327 drones to date are licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly over U.S. soil.

But the FAA expects that number to increase to 30,000 by 2020, fueling what could become a $90 billion industry.   Continue reading

Drones that can make decisions

By Catherine Reid and Summer Delaney

Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute is a pioneer in unmanned aerial aircraft research. This particular experiment, led by student Jonathan Butzke and Professor Maxim Likhachev, examines robotic decision making. The drone flown in the experiment can sense obstacles in its path and move to avoid them.

Citizens take drones to new heights

By Ashley Balcerzak

From the Burrito Bomber to crop monitoring, a look at commercial drone use

World Wildlife Fund volunteers introduce drone technology to park rangers in Nepal

World Wildlife Fund volunteers introduce drone technology to park rangers in Nepal. SOURCE: World Wildlife Fund

By Rachel Janik and Mitchell Armentrout

WASHINGTON – The next time you feel the urge for fresh Mexican food, just look up. A taco-toting drone may be circling in the sky above you.

Researchers at the Darwin Aerospace laboratory in San Francisco have designed the Burrito Bomber, the world’s first airborne Mexican food delivery system that would allow customers to have food parachuted right to their doorstep.   Continue reading

Charlottesville initiates the drone conversation

By Gideon Resnick

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia with Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello nearby. Now it is also known as a “No Drone Zone” because of a City Council resolution prohibiting the production, lease or sale of drones within the city limits.

On Feb. 4, the Charlottesville City Council passed the resolution, which also prohibits the use of drones for surveillance, precludes information obtained by drones to be used in court and restricts any drones from carrying “anti-personnel devices.” Mayor Satyendra Huja, who voted for the resolution, is concerned that drones can infringe upon constitutional rights.

“There are no guidelines on how to use drones,” Huja said.   Continue reading