Unmanned storm-chaser lands CU-Boulder on FAA’s domestic drone list

By Erica Meltzer Camera Staff Writer

Program director on drones: ‘We hate that term and don’t use it’

Would a drone by any other name sound as threatening?

A long-standing program to use unmanned aircraft to collect data on storm systems landed the University of Colorado on a list of agencies and entities that have asked the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to fly drones in domestic airspace.

The list of 81 law enforcement agencies, government entities and universities was posted online by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group focused on emerging technologies. The list of agencies that applied for permits for unmanned aircraft in 2012 ranges from the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Department of Homeland Security to local police departments in several states and more than two dozen universities, including CU’s Boulder campus.

“Any flight of an unmanned aircraft or drone — which, by the way, we hate that term and don’t use it — has to have one of these permits,” said Eric Frew, director of the Research and Engineering Center for Unmanned Vehicles at CU.