Da Vinci's children take flight: unmanned aircraft systems in the homeland
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In 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration will open national airspace to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Nonmilitary uses for UAS range from agriculture services to entertainment purposes, and include tasks as mundane as inspecting gutters and as consequential as fighting fires. Outside of the safety issues that accompany many breakthrough technologies, the effort to integrate UAS into national airspace is enmeshed in political, legal and economic policies that require careful navigation. Factors like cybersecurity and technological advancements will continue to influence the way UAS can be used. This thesis provides an orientation to the key considerations in UAS integration. Policy recommendations include early stakeholder engagement; a national data protection law; no-fly zones around private residences; clearly identifying UAS operators and owners; nonlethal payloads in national airspace; adapting current surveillance laws to UAS; a single, national privacy law to facilitate the free flow of commerce and coordination across state lines; a federal office in charge of monitoring data privacy; accountability of data collectors; limited exemptions for activities conducted in the interest of national security or to protect life and property; and managing cybersecurity risks.
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