Drones similar to those used by the military may soon be operated in civil airspace in the United States by law enforcement officials and civilians.
Police departments in Texas, Florida and Minnesota have expressed interest in using drone aircraft to spot runaway criminals on rooftops or to track them at night and conduct surveillance by using the robotic aircraft’s heat-seeking cameras.
A new drone, called Qube, which is designed specifically for civilian and law enforcement use, was unveiled last month at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Chicago. The new aircraft weighs 5 1/2 pounds, fits in the trunk of a car and is controlled remotely by a tablet computer.
According to Los Angeles Times, widespread use of unmanned aircraft like the Qube in law enforcement and civilian applications is under review by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as the agency works to ensure that the machines can safely share airspace with one another and manned aircraft.
Beyond law enforcement applications, the drones could be available for a number of civilian uses. Many people have serious privacy concerns about the camera-laden, unmanned aircraft.