California’s Drone Applicants

So far, five California entities — three of them institutions of higher learning — have asked permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to use drones when federal law allows it almost two years from now.

The FAA predicts there could be as many as 30,000 drones in American skies by 2020.

A list of 81 entities who seek authorization to use what are known as “unmanned aerial systems” beginning in late 2015 was released by the FAA in jetstream-drone-22012 as a result of a Freedom of Information Act request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

On the list from the Golden State is California State University Fresno and the University of California campuses at Davis and Merced, suggesting agricultural applications of drones is their primary interest.

Over one-third of the entities on the FAA’s list are universities and colleges. Among them: Cornell, Oregon State, Texas A&M and the University of Florida.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection also wants it’s own drone, presumably to boost fire-fighting capability.

images-1A California Air National Guard MQ-1 drone, about the size of a small Cessna, was used in August to help combat the massive Rim fire near Yosemite National Park.

The unmanned aircraft beamed photos directly to fire commanders, allowing for faster decision-making. Drones are also cheaper and more efficient in part because they aren’t grounded at night and can fly in high winds or thick smoke.

The Barona Band of Mission Indians, who operate a casino near San Diego, also want a drone for their “Risk Management Office,” which coordinates both fire fighting and security on their reservation.



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