Brazil leads the way on global commercial drone boom

I’m not sure I agree with this headline, but it certainly leads the USA (ed) Comment from Patrick as well.

SAO CARLOS, Brazil — With little more effort than it takes to launch a paper airplane, a man climbs atop a wooden table and tosses a yellow-and-white drone into the windy Brazilian skies.

With its four-foot wingspan and whiny, battery-powered engine, the drone, called Tiriba — or Parakeet in Portuguese — resembles a do-it-yourself model airplane. Yet many experts believe that portable UAVs — or unmanned aerial vehicles — like the Parakeet will refashion civilian life similar to the way militarized drones like the US-made Predator changed the face of modern warfare.

As he watches the UAV skid to a halt on a dirt landing strip after a five-minute flight, Adriano Kancelkis, the president of AGX Tecnologia, which manufactures the $35,000 device, predicts that legions of average people around the world will soon be operating drones.

“Drone technology will spread as the costs come down, just like cell phones or DVDs,” Kancelkis told GlobalPost. In the future, he said, even commercial air travel will involve UAVs.

Although the proliferation of UAVs raises serious questions about privacy, safety, and potential threats from terrorists, the non-military drone revolution is well underway across the globe. Dozens of countries have authorized their use for border control, police surveillance, firefighting, search-and-rescue, environmental operations and, in some cases, commercial purposes.