Unmanned aerial vehicles in the D.C. area?
When you hear the word “drones,” you probably think about the war on terror.
But you may see much smaller unmanned aerial vehicle in our skies very soon.
The Miami-Dade Police Department has two small drones ready to be used in the event of an emergency like a barricaded suspect. A small sheriff's office in southwestern Virginia has bought similar devices.
From Pakistan to Petworth, there's no shortage of concerns about how they'll be used.
Public outcry led Seattle's mayor to pull the plug on police drones earlier this year. In 2013, at least 39 states have considered drone laws - most limiting their use.
The ACLU argues that the drones have an unprecedented ability for law enforcement to track our movements, who we associate with where we're going and what we're doing.
Every major police department in the Washington region said they are monitoring the debate.
“We've discussed this topic but we are not currently using drones, we have no intentions to do so in the near future,” says Julie Parker, the spokeswoman for the Prince George’s County Police.
But UAV's are already buzzing in our region's skies.
FAA guidelines for the commercial use of drone are expected by 2015. But some people, like District resident Adam Eidinger, already built their own. Some are equipped with cameras.
While Eidinger sees a bright future for UAVs, he's got some big brother privacy concerns.
“We have to make sure this technology is only used for really serious situations and not just abused (or used as) a toy for police to harass people and to take away their rights,” he says.
Currently, the District is a no fly zones for private drones, and until those FAA rules are released, drones can't be used for commercial operations.
But once that happens, one study projects the drone building industry will create 70,000 new jobs by 2018.
Privacy concerns or not, they're coming.