Utah takes a step in fighting the coming drone wars

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  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    April 11, 2014 9:06 a.m.

    To "UtahBlueDevil" whose comment in reference to my previous post seems to imply that s/he thinks I'm against the use of drones (UAV). If that is the impression I left then please accept my apology for its ambiguity. In fact, I am in favor of UAVs, under the right circumstances.

    In fact, as a former aerial photographer and someone who has experienced the stomach-churning effects of aerial maneuvering while trying to get the right angle for an oblique shot out the window of a plane, I am a BIG booster of them...under the right circumstances.

    The point of my post was to highlight my surprise at not seeing any mention of what seems to me to be an obvious potential for much worse than jeopardizing someone's privacy. That and the logistical nightmare of agencies like the FAA/FBI/etc. in trying to enforce whatever regulatory structure erected to try and minimize the destructive potential for these things.

    The fact that virtually everything has some destructive potential doesn't diminish the equal fact that this particular technology adds a very new aspect of ubiquity and mobility to the already very difficult-to-defend asymmetrical arms race.

  • photobeauty Blanding, UT
    April 9, 2014 9:18 p.m.

    You might be interested in what happened to me this week as pertains to this issue. I was told no when I asked permission to fly my quadcopter over an Anazazi ruin and photograph it. This ruin is near a state run museum. The reason given was that they are waiting for the Bureau of Land Management to develop a policy about the use of "drones" over such sites. I called the nearby BLM office and asked to speak with the employee who had been recommended to me as the one who would know what was going on and be interested in my comments. That person did not answer the phone and has not yet returned my call as I asked him to do. The comment in this article about someone at an athletic event being injured by a drone is a magnification of the actual event. So now I am facing something similar to the wilderness study area designation. The area is treated as wilderness when no such designation has been officially made and this continues year after year. Big government goes on forever but my life is short.

  • OKWalker Duncan, OK
    April 9, 2014 7:09 p.m.

    Drones (or UAVs) are like any other technology. They can be used for tremendous good, or they can be used for destructive purposes. Or they can simply be used for productive and commercial purposes. The biggest problem with UAVs has been the FAA completely blocking and dragging its feet, allowing major military contractors most of the government dollars to develop the technology, and blocking all commercial uses.

    There are many tremendously beneficial commercial and public service uses. The Utah Drone law is way too broad. Why can't police departments use drones to monitor traffic, search for Amber alert victims, monitor the city for obvious illicit activity? They can use helicopters can't they? Then why not much cheaper drones? A UAV is just an aerial platform for a camera, or an infrared sensor. With the technology, Elizabeth Smart could have been found in less than 24 hours after her abduction. Easy! How about Forest Fire detection and fire fighter intelligence? How about quickly finding avalanche victims? Utah benefits from massive federal allocations for drones out at Dugway. Some of the finest UAV technology has been developed in Provo. The Governor should promote the benefits of Drones throughout Utah.

  • Meckofahess Salt Lake City, UT
    April 9, 2014 12:50 p.m.

    Salt Lake City, UT

    I have to agree with you, Many good and thoughtful points. Thanks for sharing them!

  • Shawnm750 West Jordan, UT
    April 9, 2014 12:05 p.m.

    @UtahBlueDevil - Well said!

    I hope there was a stipulation in the bill Gov. Herbert signed that says drones can't be used for "surveillance purposes" without a warrant. What about using them to find missing persons or track down criminals who are on the run? What about other agencies that could use them, such as firefighters? They could easily benefit from this technology by allowing a drone to give them aerial views of fires, temperature readings and even help in spotting trapped victims, all without endangering the firefighters themselves. This is an instance in which I believe the benefits of this technology outweigh the potential abuses. The FAA is dragging their feet, leaving states and municipalities to fill the void with some knee-jerk laws and regulations.

  • Steve Cottrell Centerville, UT
    April 9, 2014 11:43 a.m.

    It would seem wise to use drones for search operations. They can certainly go places where planes cannot and where helicopters and their personnel might be in considerable danger. Narrow canyons seem to be an ideal space for drone search operations. They are probably much more economical than conventional search equipment and could arrive at a specified location, even in our deserts, quicker than those on foot, horseback, or conventional transport vehicles.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 9, 2014 11:32 a.m.

    @samhill…… they would deal with it the same way they would anything that is "weaponized"…. be it a drone, a car, a plane, a box, or what ever. You don't need a drone to deliver a bomb. Seems as we saw in Boston a pressure cooker in a back pack works just fine too.

    We can't ban everything because it might be weaponized. If that were the case we would be left with not much more than plastic forks and spoons…. and even those can be turned into weapons.

    And we can't ban everything that flies, because it might fall down.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    April 9, 2014 10:33 a.m.

    "...the people of Deer Trail, Colo., voted overwhelmingly to reject a plan to let people blast unmanned aircraft out of the air. If rural Americans who, one would expect, are normally suspicious of government won’t reject drones, there is little left to stop their proliferation."
    Ahmmm. I don't think the aforementioned vote was an indication of the nonchalance of "rural Americans" to drones. Rather, it more likely indicates an appreciation for the danger of falling bullets that miss their targets and/or, the uncontrolled falling drones that are hit!

    Surprisingly, after witnessing the potential for turning airliners into weapons on 9/11, there is no mention of the very real potential for using drones as cheap and plentiful delivery platforms of small (but very effective) bombs, as evidenced by the arrest in Connecticut yesterday of 27-year-old El Mehdi Semlali Fahtia, Morracan national, for planning to fly bomb-laden drones into an out-of-state school and a federal building in Connecticut.

    How in the world will the FAA for FBI/CIA/etc. control this opened Pandora's box?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 9, 2014 10:07 a.m.

    "It’s a good move, especially as police departments nationwide become more militant..."

    Excuse me? This is ubbserd. Is Jay saying that we are heading back to a time when the local sherrif calls for a pose, and they head on out to lynch the bad guys? Today's police have almost more rules on them then the people they are trying to protect us from.

    The story related is silly. This was a persons personal drone they were flying...not a commercial grade aircraft. Are we going to ban RC planes as well.. it was about the same thing.

    Drones can play a huge role in our protection. The requirement for a warrant is over reaching in many cases. Whether it be a search and rescue for a lost child or hiker, to being able to get an arial view of an accident or crime scene, getting a warrant would be a huge bottle neck to situations where time is critical.

    I am more worried that last night I was looking for a cruise, and today I have a banner ads here for a cruise line. The DN is watching me much more evasively than the police ever would.