UAVs and drones are essentially one and the same: they are radio-controlled aircraft that can be piloted from the ground. But academics don’t like the term drone because the public associates those machines with cruise missiles and privacy violations. While that’s a far cry from what these researchers use drones for, concerns about their presence in higher education remain.
It’s not entirely without basis. In 2009, the Georgia Institute of Technology’s police department applied for federal permission to use drones for surveillance at football games, freshman move-in days and other high-traffic campus events. The Federal Aviation Administration turned the department down, but the request raised red flags with civil liberties advocates when the application surfaced last month thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request. Georgia Tech police haven’t pursued the plan since.