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Small drones hit US regulatory turbulence

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Posted February 14, 2014
A small remote-controlled drone hovers in the sky at a meet-up of the DC Area Drone User Group on February 1, 2014
A small remote-controlled drone hovers in the sky at a meet-up of the DC Area Drone User Group on February 1, 2014
Hovering like mechanical sparrows over a windswept Maryland field on a bright Saturday afternoon, small drones seem harmless—but they are at the center of an ardent dogfight over US regulations.

Every few weeks, members of the 800-strong DC Area Drone Users Group gather to fly their remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles and discuss the ways they could be put to good civilian use.

“The applications are endless,” said German expat Peter Schloemer, 57, after flying a Multirotor, a black octocopter that resembles an insect, around the hilltop with compatriot Uwe Doergeloh, 41.

“Anything you can use a helicopter for today, you can use a drone.”

Imaginations run wild, with visions of lightweight drones spraying and watering crops, inspecting damaged high-rise buildings, identifying pipeline leaks and searching for lost children.

“We’re not just about technology itself, but how technology can be used to make the world a better place,” said Tim Reuter, the founder of the Washington area group.

But no sooner does a drone get off the ground than it flies into red tape.

Strict US drone guidelines

Guidelines set by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) limit drone flying to 400 feet (120 meters) above the ground—about 150 feet less than the height of the Washington Monument—and clear of airports.

Read more at: Phys.org

 

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