State agencies in California are working feverishly to declare a large area in the southern portion of the State as a “drone zone” where unmanned aircraft can be tested.
The San Diego Military Advisory Council (SDMAC) and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC) filed an application with the Federal Aviation Administration to create the drone zone. The groups reportedly believe that being on the forefront of drone development will help the financially suffering State stimulate its economy.
The drone industry in San Diego County alone is worth roughly $1.3 billion and growing. Major drone producer Northrup Grumman has relocated branches of its drone program to other areas of Southern California; and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, which produces Predator drones, is located in Poway.
Other States are following California’s lead in attempting to garner a chunk of the $10 billion dollar drone industry. About 40 applications have been or are being filed with the FAA by various groups throughout the Nation.
The American Civil Liberties Union, a constant voice of concern over privacy with regard to drones, issued a statement this week calling for clear rules before the unmanned aircraft take to the skies.
It reads, in part: “Unmanned aircraft carrying cameras raise the prospect of a significant new avenue for the surveillance of American life … The technology is quickly becoming cheaper and more powerful, interest in deploying drones among police departments in increasing, and our privacy laws are not strong enough to ensure that the new technology will be used responsibly and consistently with constitutional values.
“We need a system of rules to ensure that Americans can enjoy the benefits of this technology without bringing our country a large step closer to a ‘surveillance society.”’