Technology

Dec 18, 2013 4:33 PM by David Randall

Colorado school among sites vying for drone testing

Chris Vo and his friends fly drones for sport, filming landscapes including snow capped mountains in Virginia, but Chris is dreaming of much more.

"One day these drones will be ubiquitous," he says. "We will have little robot helpers doing all sorts of tasks for us."

Congress agrees, and has ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to identify six test sites to study the safety of commercial drones.

24 states have applied for a spot.

The goal is to allow drones, or unmanned aircraft systems, for commercial use by 2015.

At Oklahoma State University students are studying how drones can help farmers monitor their fields for disease.

 

Texas A&M University, meanwhile, has a new command center for drones.

Both could be named test sites.

The University of Colorado-Boulder is also vying for a shot at becoming a drone testing site.

The FAA predicts 7,500 drones will hit the sky by 2018, and industry groups believe that will translate into an $82 billion industry employing at least 100,000 people.

Roofers want them for home inspections and Amazon is eying the devices for deliveries.

Still, privacy advocates worry about misuse and mass surveillance.

"You're going to have it from all angles - from the government, from commercial entities, from your neighbor and the person down the street," warns Amie Stepanovich of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

The six test sites will help the FAA create rules to address air safety and privacy, among other things.

The Inspector General has identified this issue as a top challenge for the FAA next year.

Click here to watch the video.

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