Americas Civil Military

Concerns rise about growing use of domestic drones


Tom Loftus, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal

FRANKFORT, Ky. — If you fret about the possibility that drones soon may be hovering over your neighborhood, you may want to avoid Blue Eye Investigations’ website.

Under a headline touting it as “authorized to operate aerial drone surveillance,” is a photo of Blue Eye’s eye-in-the-sky — which looks like a large, mechanical spider lifted by four rotor blades, carrying a video camera under a glass dome.

Richard Travelstead, owner of Blue Eye in Louisville, Ky., confesses that his site’s message contains what he calls a bit of marketing, given that no one authorized him to use his drone.

In fact, no authorization is required for the kind of drone he uses, a fairly sophisticated personal or hobby drone with limited range that anyone can buy online or at an electronics store.

But concerned about an emerging technology with many untapped commercial and public safety applications, Kentucky, like dozens of other states, is exploring laws to monitor and limit drone use.

“I am alarmed by media reports that the FAA predicts that between 10,000 to 30,000 drones could be lurking in our skies by 2020,” state Rep. Diane St. Onge, a Republican from Lakeside Park, Ky., said in April.

And Adrian Lauf, an assistant professor at the University of Louisville who has worked extensively with computing systems that control aircraft, said he predicts a sharp increase in the use of larger, highly sophisticated drones after the Federal Aviation Administration permits it.

“In the next five years, we’re going to see a steady increase in usage,” he said. “Over the next 10 years, I see a dramatic increase.”

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