Thousands of Iowa farmers are now using cameras and other gear mounted on remote-control aircraft — or drones — for a host of agricultural applications. The federal government announced a plan Monday to require all drones to be registered.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says quad-copters and other small flying platforms have the potential to be misused, but he’s unclear if or how the feds should begin to regulate them.
“I would want the federal government to concentrate on where drones are a danger to other flying aircraft,” Grassley says. “If they go beyond that, then I’m going to raise several questions.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx wants all drones to be registered so they can be more easily tracked in case there’s a violation, a crash or some other problem.
Grassley, a Republican, says the federal DOT may be on the verge of overstepping an important boundary. “I don’t think there’s any doubt they have jurisdiction in and around airports, and anything that would fly high enough to be a danger to a commercial or private aircraft,” Grassley says, “but beyond that, then I’m concerned about, do they have the authority to do more than that?”
Transportation Secretary Foxx is assembling a task force to develop recommendations on drone regulation, a panel that includes airline pilots and drone-flying hobbyists. As technology has advanced and prices have dropped, Grassley notes drones are becoming increasingly popular for their use as commercial tools — and as toys.
Grassley says, “We need some regulation of drones even beyond safety of aircraft and that is Fourth Amendment protection of privacy of individuals to make sure that drones can’t be used to snoop on somebody you don’t like or somebody just for curiosity.” A recent projection from the FAA estimates up to one million drones will be sold as gifts during the upcoming holiday season.