February 18th, 2013
The topic of operation of UASs (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) more commonly referred to as drones is really heating up. This last week there were articles in every publication from New York Times, to National Geographic Magazine and every other publication on the planet weighing in on use of drones! All this exposure and controversy is not helping the resolution of commercial UAS rules.
The good news is that the FAA is making progressing towards coming up with rules and regulations regarding UAS use. This article recently released by the FAA summarizes the progress, from the point of view of the FAA. The FAA is working on coming up with 6 cities in the US to test the operation and use of Drones.
The bad news for real estate photographers and others that want to put drones to practical commercial use is that the hype, fear and paranoia concerning drone use by law enforcement is drowning out everything else in the public discourse on this subject. As described in the New York Times article, use of drones by law enforcement in Seattle, Tallahassee, Charlottesville, Alameda County, Arizona, Montana and Idaho have been curtailed in various ways by the raucous opposition from the anti-drone lobby. One example is that last week Seattle Mayor Michael McGinn responded to public protests to law enforcement drones by banning their use by Seattle police and sending back Seattle Police drones to the manufacturer.
For real estate photographers just wanting to get this resolved so they can get on with using these awesome little devices to get great elevated video and stills all this public controversy about drone use is not good news. Public protest is going to complicate and restrict the use of commercial drones!
Update 2/18: Todays New York Times has a very timely Op-Ed piece by Drew Christie, who is an animator, filmmaker and illustrator living in Seattle. One of the funniest parts of the piece is illustration/video satire Drew made. The comments on the op-ed illustrate the diversity of opinion on this subject!