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The New Nuclear? Drone Testing Sites Move Forward Despite Fears

Mike Miley

Brantly Millegan - published on 01/01/14

Yes, drones are used by the military, but there’s nothing scary about drone technology itself.

Drones could be coming to a new drone test site near you. The U.S. federal government’s Federal Aviation Administration recently announced six sites around the country for the testing of civilian drones. The selections come at the end of a ten month process that considered 25 applicants from 24 states.

The six sites will be run by the University of Alaska, Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi, Virginia Tech, Griffiss International Airport in Rome, N.Y., the State of Nevada, and the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce.

"In selecting the six test site operators, the FAA considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk," the FAA said in a statement, according to Mashable.

The FAA is aware that drones have a bad reputation and are a contentious issue, a concern that their statement addressed. "Among other requirements, test site operators must comply with federal, state, and other laws protecting an individual’s right to privacy, have publicly available privacy policies and a written plan for data use and retention, and conduct an annual review of privacy practices that allows for public comment.”

Not unlike nuclear technology, it’s unfortunate that drones have come to be associated so strongly with the military, and are thus seen as something to be feared. But drones could have many other uses: from delivering packages and doing aerial photography, to leading tours or just having fun, drone technology could potentially be used for great good. Of course, as the FAA is doing, something like drone technology should be implemented carefully and thoughtfully. But people should also be careful they don’t stifle innovation due to fears based on ignorance.

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