The Conversation

States Duke It Out for Opportunity to Test Domestic Drones

The LA Times is reporting that 37 states are competing to be one of six designated sites to test remote piloted drones.  

Technically, the designation itself offers no money, but 50 groups in 37 states have entered the Federal Aviation Administration competition. States see the designation as an opportunity to generate jobs from a burgeoning industry.

Much attention was brought to the issue of drones snooping around in domestic airspace when Senator Rand Paul took to the floor with a 12 hour+ fillibuster onthe topic.  Nevertheless, the states are vying for piece of the federal drone pie. 

"Clearly, we wouldn't be interested unless we thought there was money," said Bob Knauff, a retired general leading a New York-Massachusetts bid.

But there seems to be some competing interests: 

Even as the competition rages, lawmakers from city halls to Congress are writing legislation to restrict drone flights. The FAA also is getting an earful from a public anxious about drones invading their privacy.

The drone industry is quite lucrative. "Aerospace research firm Teal Group Corp. estimated that worldwide drone spending will almost double over the next decade to $11.4 billion. Thousands of drones are expected to be deployed over the U.S. within the next five years for all sorts of chores, including inspecting pipelines, scouting film locations, searching for lost hikers, helping police track criminal suspects."

We will soon see if the public's concern for privacy will overide the states need for more federal money. 


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