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Task Force Will Hammer Out Who Will Have to Report Their Drones to the Government

Can we start with the CIA?

Terror in the skies?Credit: Michael Khor / photo on flickrAs teased on Friday, the Department of Transportation DOT today announced plans to require citizens to register their drones or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to the federal government. Or rather, today the DOT announced plans to develop plans. So it goes for government policies.

Who is going to have to register their drones? Will this be for existing drone purchases or just new ones? That’s unclear for now. DOT is putting together a task force that includes both government representatives and folks from within the UAS industry. They’ll be giving their recommendations by November 20.

What is clear is that the intent is definitely not to make every American citizen register every little electric whirligig that can hover in the air, and they’re not trying to mess with the hobby remote aircraft community that has existed long before this current UAS culture developed. The DOT release notes:

The group will advise the Department on which aircraft should be exempt from registration due to a low safety risk, including toys and certain other small UAS.  The task force also will explore options for a streamlined system that would make registration less burdensome for commercial UAS operators.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says it’s all about responsibility. Concerned about close calls between UAS drones and airplanes, they want to make sure the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can track down drones that are flown recklessly (or to be more specific—what the government determines to be reckless).

So how small is small, actually? Even small drones could be dangerous if it gets struck by a plane midair. My suspicion/prediction is that the registration will not be based on the size of the drone but rather what it’s capable of. If it can fly above a certain threshold and if it can be used for surveillance, I’m going to suspect government officials are going to want to have them registered, even if they are very small drones.

It’s also worth pointing out or reminding that the FAA had already been planning in its commercial drone rules that all UAS vehicles have unique identifiers for tracking, just like planes. When those initial plans were announced back in February, there were concerns that heavy federal regulation could drive out potential small entrepreneurs. Mandatory registration at point of sale would certainly make it easier for the FAA to implement and enforce oppressive policies that could pretty much guarantee it, if that’s what they (or the industry representatives that will be lobbying these rules) wanted. Certainly, proposing absurdly high fines for perceived violations is definitely intended to intimidate UAS pilots.

Most importantly, all Americans will lose out if important drone cultural drone exercises like the one below are not permitted to take place:

Photo Credit: Michael Khor / photo on flickr

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  • kinnath||

    Dickheads that fly UAVs at vehicle in the street deserve to be beaten severely. And this is why we can't have nice things without registration.

  • PACW||

    Yes.

  • What's the frequency, Kenneth?||

    Because no one could ever figure out how to launch projectiles at vehicles without drones.

  • Paul.||

    So how small is small, actually? Even small drones could be dangerous if it gets struck by a plane midair. My suspicion/prediction is that the registration will not be based on the size of the drone but rather what it’s capable of. If it can fly above a certain threshold and if it can be used for surveillance

    ALL drones can be used for "surveillance", period, the end. No Mas, El Fin, El Punto Finale, Es Todo.

  • Jordan||

    Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says it’s all about responsibility.

    Bullshit. It's about funding and power.

  • Paul.||

    What else is super-awesome is many higher-end drone manufacturers are treating their own products like Marijuana, you can buy them, but fuck if you can actually fly them anywhere. The Yuneec q500 for instance, has firmware that won't even spin up the motors if you're within something like 5 miles of an airport.

    If you live in an urban area, you're ALWAYS within five miles of an airport and that pretty much makes the entire fucking place off-limits.

  • kinnath||

    You just need to reprogram the flight control computer.

  • Paul.||

    I told my friend I'd take a look at the firmware and see if I could easily identify the LAT/LONG coordinates in the embedded firmware, and zero them all out. But not everyone has that option.

  • kinnath||

    i'm sure there will soon be an after-market to take care of that.

    Then UAV manufacturers can start suing people for copyright violations. ;-)

  • some guy||

    Just give it time. Most phones get rooted eventually. The same will happen with any other device, especially when enthusiasts are involved. This is why the government will never be able to completely lock down cars (or anything else) in the information age.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    I have a DJI Phantom and I haven't upgraded the firmware in at least a year for exactly that reason.

    Oh, and I'm not registering shit. Come and get it.

  • MichaelL||

    Not happy with over-reach? Do you like gun registration?! More big government, because people don't know how to play with their toys without endangering others' lives!

  • ||

    I live in the middle of Houston and am not within even 10 miles of any of our three airports.

  • ||

    Everything is bigger in Texas... well, minus your manhood (or so I've been told)

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Anyone should be able to buy a drone, but what if they're using the public airways?

    Just like anyone should be able to own a car, but what if they want to use the public roads.

    Naturally, I'm open to ideas about privatizing the roads, airways, etc., so as to get rid of government micromanagement.

  • some guy||

    All commercial aircraft should be equipped with nose-mounted lasers to shoot down any drones that get in the way. The laser's camera feed should be piped straight to the seat-back monitors so I can watch.

  • What's the frequency, Kenneth?||

    The "public airwaves" shouldn't belong to anyone unless homesteaded, and that includes "all of us," I.E., the government.

  • Ivan Pike||

    Serious question; should drones be used in hunting.

    http://www.adn.com/article/201.....rylink=cpy

    I am talking about the 'ethical' use, not the legal use.

  • kinnath||

    Depends on what you're hunting.

    I think it would be perfectly ethical to drop a brick onto a squad car from 40 stories up.

  • Ivan Pike||

    Hunting big game...

    First three words in the article.

  • SugarFree||

    Cops are the most biggerest game.

  • kinnath||

    Bigger and more dangerous than javelina.

  • Lee G||

    Why not?

  • Ivan Pike||

    Why not?

    That's where I'm at. I think it could be beneficial as the hunter could get a good look at the animal before starting to his stalk. He could decide it isn't worth his effort. I use a spotting scope now, so I don't see the difference. I know some people worry about using drones to drive the animals toward them for a better shot, but again people are used now, so not much of a difference. It could also be used to track a wounded animal to make recovery more probable.

    The only issue I would have is arming them.

  • ||

    The only issue I would have is arming them.

    Why?

  • Ivan Pike||

    Why?

    Because at that point, you really aren't hunting anymore. It makes taking game so easy that you really couldn't even be considered hunting. It is purely a personal preference.

  • Lee G||

    It is purely a personal preference.

    As long as it's kept that way.

  • ||

    I agree with that, I just don't see what the ethical issue is.

  • R C Dean||

    For purposes of spotting game, I think its arguably ethical. God knows when I've hunted in broken country, I've fantasized about getting a look over the next goddam ridge without having to climb it, or taking a look at the next meadow over without beating my way through a quartermile of frickin' blackberry canes.

    For driving or taking game, clearly unethical.

  • Lee G||

    For driving or taking game, clearly unethical.

    Not clear to me at all.

  • Ivan Pike||

    Not clear to me at all.

    For driving, I think it is borderline. I personally wouldn't do it, but then where I hunt it isn't practicable. For taking game, I would say it is unethical as the advantages to the so-called hunter are so over-whelming that it crosses the line.

  • ||

    The advantages to the "so-called hunter" are far more overwhelming in livestock production but that doesn't make it unethical.

  • kbolino||

    The advantages to the "so-called hunter" are far more overwhelming in livestock production but that doesn't make it unethical.

    Which is probably why no one calls people who raise livestock hunters. For every animal brought to slaughter, another one or two will take its place. The population is carefully controlled and provided for. Hunters don't do any of this.

  • Lee G||

    I've never understood this distinction. If you want to even the odds, then use your bare hands. Guns are tools, bows are tools, drones are tools. The methods vary only in efficiency and effectiveness.

  • ||

    I've never understood this distinction.

    I don't either. There are actual deer farms where there is no hunting necessary at all. Why would there be greater ethical concerns for how a wild deer is killed versus one on a farm?

  • kbolino||

    Why would there be greater ethical concerns for how a wild deer is killed versus one on a farm?

    I can't speak to the hunter ethos, but at a practical level wild populations can be quite easily decimated if hunted too aggressively.

  • Lee G||

    As long as the game are not privately owned, I agree that there is a role for regulations in maintaining the populations. But that can be accomplished with limits.

  • kbolino||

    As long as the game are not privately owned, I agree that there is a role for regulations in maintaining the populations. But that can be accomplished with limits.

    Misplaced reply?

  • ||

    I can't speak to the hunter ethos, but at a practical level wild populations can be quite easily decimated if hunted too aggressively.

    That's a seperate issue though, for that purpose one deer killed with a drone versus one deer killed with a handheld rifle versus is no difference.

  • kbolino||

    That's a seperate issue though, for that purpose one deer killed with a drone versus one deer killed with a handheld rifle versus is no difference.

    The question then is not about whether a kill is a kill but whether every hunt ends in a kill.

  • SimonJester||

    Who cares if they advantages are over-whelming toward the hunger? Is drone-assisted hunting vs rifle a bigger advantage than rifle vs spear? I don't know about you, but I don't go and look for the most "Equal" way to hunt. If I did, I would break out a boar spear and a copy of Aristotle and hope for the best.

    And if you don't WANT to do it, or don't want folks to do it on your land, great, cool, fine, but don't stop other hunters from using new toys simply because you don't like it.

  • Ivan Pike||

    And if you don't WANT to do it, or don't want folks to do it on your land, great, cool, fine, but don't stop other hunters from using new toys simply because you don't like it.

    Show me where I said I would keep others from using them? I didn't. I said "I" think they are unethical. And if someone said they hunted using a drone, I would laugh at them as they are no hunter.

    As I said, it is a personal preference. If you want to go to a game ranch and do a hunt, knock yourself out. If you don't want to hunt, again have fun. But I reserve the right to think you are unethical "as a hunter" and make fun of you.

  • R C Dean||

    Not clear to me at all.

    Its a gut reaction on my part, having to do with the way that hunting in this day and age is not necessary for survival, but is fundamentally a form of recreation.

    Not saying I'd outlaw it (necessarily), but I would view anyone who used a drone to drive or take game as unethical, no better than someone who violates other "rules" of hunting like "no spotlighting deer" and the like.

  • In League with the Dark Ones||

    Is Obama already doing that?

  • Notorious UGCC||

    "important drone cultural drone exercises like the one below"

    "R-r-r-rhost!"

    [several chase scenes later]

    "So you see, this so-called 'ghost' was nothing but a drone covered in a sheet and a mask, which Mr. Higgins were operating remotely from his house. The noise it was making was a clue - what ghost has a motor?"

    "Yeah, but I just wanted to scare away the developers who wanted to put up a shopping mall in my neighborhood. And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!"

  • Notorious UGCC||

    *was* operating remotely

  • tarran||

    Needs more oblique pot references!

  • Notorious UGCC||

    "Like, look how high that ghost is!"

  • Detroit Linguist||

    As was pointed out on the Volokh Conspiracy, the number of 'close calls' is grossly exaggerated. They cite a study by the National Model Rocket Association, and, guess what, the FAA is lying. Not surprisingly...

    http://www.modelaircraft.org/g.....091415.pdf

  • Notorious UGCC||

    You're just in the pocket
    Of Big Model Rocket

  • SimonJester||

    OH come on, at least give us a limerick or haiku.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    There once was a fellow named Simon
    Who told people how they should right poetry
    Bla-bla bla-bla blah
    Bla-bla bla-bla blah
    Why don't you go take a hike?

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    That alt-text -- didn't the Doors write a song abou that -- "Ter-ror in the skies ..." I can hear the tune with those words now, not the originals, and can't even imagine the title any more.

  • kinnath||

    Doors -- Riders on the storm

  • kinnath||

    Alternatively,

    "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend" is a cowboy-styled country/western song written in 1948 by American songwriter Stan Jones.[1] A number of versions were crossover hits on the pop charts in 1949, the most successful being by Vaughn Monroe. The ASCAP database lists the song as "Riders in the Sky" (title code 480028324[2]), but the title has been written as "Ghost Riders", "Ghost Riders in the Sky", and "A Cowboy Legend". Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.[3]

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    Thanks! No idea why the Doors song flashed on seeing that alt-text. Glad to know my brain is still actively weird.

  • Robert||

    I thought it (in some version, maybe just poem) was older.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    One you start looking into "western history", it's amazing how much was made up fro cowboy movies and TV shows. Heck, it started way back in real time, in the 1800s after the civil war, when writers were flooding the market with cheap paperbacks. That's where the myth of the shoot-em-up wild wild west came from. Someone looked through old obits and newspaper stories and found that New York and other big eastern cities had something like 10 or 100 times the murder rate of the cow towns. Then Hollywood bought into the excitement, and anyone brought up on Gunsmoke can be forgiven for thinking it was a documentary.

  • Loki||

    The task force also will explore options for a streamlined system that would make registration less burdensome for commercial UAS operators.

    "Everyone else can go play hide and go fuck themselves."

  • bassjoe||

    I'm not entirely sure how any regulations will be enforced.

    It's nearly impossible to track drones in the air due to their small size. Assuming you could track one, if an owner decides to ditch it somewhere (thinking losing a few hundred bucks is worth not getting arrested), it's impossible to connect that drone to the owner... unless, of course, the drone is registered. The handset's signals are difficult to triangulate on short notice (not to mention losing triangulation if the owner just decides to turn off the handset and/or move).

    I mean, yeah, it goes without saying that drones shouldn't be flying around commercial airline takeoff/landing routes as that is asking for a disaster to happen. But good luck coming up with enforceable regulations to actually stop that. On top of that, creating a line between old-style hobby model aircraft and drones is going to be nearly impossible and it will, in the end, be a completely arbitrary decision (and courts don't generally like arbitrariness in making regulations).

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