The possibility of unmanned drones coming to an American neighborhood became more of a reality due to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill enacted on Monday.
So while drones have been used to help patrol US borders in the past, they will perform a variety of functions in the future. Most notably for surveillance purposes, which has some very concerned about potential privacy issues, Fox News reported.
The bill gives the federal agency 90 days in which to ensure that those seeking a Certificate of Authorization (COA) to operate these aircraft that are to be 400-feet off the ground, don't get lost in paperwork land. according to the FAA.
In fact, the government appears to want those national airspace craft applications reviewed and approved as quickly as possible.
The FAA must have a streamlined process in place in order to review the application, and address any concerns or requirements with the requesting applicant. There is to be no unnecessary delays in implementing unmanned drones into the national air space (NAS) completely by 2015.
But these drones are already in use, and by businesses you might not expect, like college campuses.
The FAA has to be able to provide applicants with alternative solutions for meeting approval for use, if they run into a complication during the application process.
So what's the rush, and why put unmanned equipment in American airspace like the country's military does when they operate overseas?
The reason for the rush has to do with the bill and the legislators behind it. According to the FAA, that bill requires that the federal agency have six test sites chosen by December in which to operate and monitor unmanned drones.
And by 2015, all the drones that are approved for use should be integrated into the program.
The unmanned drones are needed, the FAA says, for first responder reasons--humanitarian and emergency needs, as well as a law enforcement tool.
But how can a drone provide emergency or humanitarian aid? It's an unmanned aircraft. And just who will be allowed to operate these drones?
It will not just be government entities, as some might wish, who operate the aircraft over America's national airspace, as it will also include some businesses in the public sector, and educational facilities like Georgia Tech and the University of Colorado, who each already have drone use permission.
That, therefore, opens up a whole new can of worms: Who will safeguard the public's privacy if so many different public and local law enforcement agencies have control of these unmanned drones?
That's an excellent questions, and despite the FAA's insistence that they will be the oversight agency, there remain those who think this new move to put drones in airspace over residential areas might just be too intrusive by government, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.