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New Approach Needed for Recreational Drone Rules

10/1/2015
By Yasmin Tadjdeh
 
A lack of concrete rules to regulate recreational unmanned aerial vehicles across the United States is leading to chaos and many dangerous close-call collisions, said one drone expert.

There are safety, privacy and economic issues because of this lack of rules, said Hans Mumm, an unmanned aerial vehicle expert and the author of the book, “Applying Complexity Leadership Theory to Drone Airspace Integration.”

The Federal Aviation Administration is tasked with integrating unmanned aerial systems in the national airspace. Earlier this year, the agency released a set of proposed rules to control the commercial use of drones, but recreational use is still largely ungoverned.

The FAA has said that recreational drone users must fly below 400 feet, be able to see the UAV and not interfere with manned aircraft. However, this is largely unpoliced and relies on the user to be responsible, Mumm said.

The FAA has a very authoritarian and linear approach to its thought process that clashes with the sensibilities of the majority of young users who fly drones, he said.

“When you say, ‘OK, let’s put some rules out there’ … I think you have to look at your user base, and your user base is a younger user base,” he said.

Members of the millennial generation — those born between 1980 and 2000 — want a non-authoritarian set of rules and to be part of the drafting process, he said.

“They’re not saying that they won’t follow the rules; they’re not saying that they just want to be rebels,” he said. “What they want is some sort of a say. They want to be part of the solution.”

This issue is compounded by what a recent Brookings Institution blog said is an “uneven” spread of regulations throughout the country. Authors David Swindell, Kevin C. Desouza and Sabrina P.K. Glimcher said, “when it comes to regulations around drones, we are living in the proverbial wild west.”

Seventeen states have some form of varying drone regulations with more legislation pending, they said.

“The challenge this rapidly developing technology is creating is well ahead of local government efforts to rein in excessive activities,” the post said. “State and local governments need to engage on this policy issue more proactively. To do so, however, requires a delicate balancing act of the multiple competing interests of legitimate commercial uses, policing, public safety, privacy and private property concerns.”

In an August press release, the FAA said “pilot reports of unmanned aircraft have increased dramatically over the past year, from a total of 238 sightings in all of 2014, to more than 650 by Aug. 9 of this year.”

The statement said the FAA was working alongside law enforcement to indentify and investigate unauthorized unmanned aircraft operations.



Topics: Aviation, Robotics, Unmanned Air Vehicles

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