Consider the Qube. It’s 3 feet long, weighs about 5 pounds and can be assembled in a jiffy. It’s equipped with thermal and high-resolution cameras. It can fly all by itself, for 40 minutes at a time, hovering noiselessly at up to 500 feet. And it films all it sees.

The Qube, made by AeroVironment Inc. (AVAV), is one model in a growing fleet of drones -- or, technically, unmanned aerial vehicles -- now plying the skies above the U.S., piloted remotely by National Guard units and Customs and Border Protection agents, for just two examples. These machines have proved invaluable in war zones, and their expanding use domestically holds great promise.

But surveillance drones also create daunting privacy concerns. The Federal Aviation Administration now requires government and research organizations to apply for authorization before they can operate such aircraft. A bill signed Feb. 14, however, charges the FAA with speeding up the approval process for new operators and with fully integrating drones into American airspace by Sept. 30, 2015.

As it does so, the FAA, working with other agencies, should take steps to help ensure that drones fly within the parameters of the Constitution.

Full article at Bloomberg



AuthorKatina Michael