Don’t ban private drones in Oregon

Parrot AR.Drone2.0_thb

by Ben Howard

Drones have gotten a bad rap in the public eye. We see constant media coverage of drone strikes overseas and surveillance footage that they capture of people totally unaware of their presence. Legislators in Oregon have introduced Senate Bill 71 to ban every possible form of drones to prevent drones from being used to spy on us or worse, kill citizens of Oregon.

Now on the surface I agree with the idea. I don’t want big brother watching me 24 hours a day with armed drones circling overhead and I don’t think anyone else does either. The problem is that people see drones as government spies or killers not simply as workhorses of the sky. Just because the military puts missiles on helicopters doesn’t make anyone think a life flight helicopter should be banned. People recognize that conventional airplanes or helicopters have other uses and value them accordingly.

Until recently the public did not have the ability to operate their own drones but now that technology has gotten cheaper, lighter and smaller, anyone with 400 bucks can buy a Parrot AR Drone from Amazon which displays live video and can be piloted by their iPad. If SB 71 passes, the owner / operator of that toy could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.

If Oregon bans drone use or makes it so cumbersome that private industry avoids it, they will close their door to a multi-billion dollar industry. In the future drones can and will be used for precision agriculture, forestry, land use planning and much more. It would be a shame to see Oregon miss this opportunity.

Ben Howard is the CTO of HoneyComb. HoneyComb uses drones to image the earth using high-resolution, hyperspectral, and thermal cameras. Systems are light-weight, modular, and can be quickly deployed anywhere in the world within days.

Related links:

City in Virginia passes legislation banning drones

Washington state bill would restrict buying, deploying drones


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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Drones, OR 77th Legislative Session | 26 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Tim Lyman

    Drones exist for two purposes only:

    1. Warfare
    2. Intelligence gathering

    I don’t want them used for either purpose in Oregon. I don’t want our citizens to be killed by remote control, and I don’t want them spied on by their neighbors and every two bit bureaucrat and PI in the state.

    Yes on 71.

    • Ben

      You are right, drones are for fighting, they could be used to fight forest fires in conditions that human pilots cannot safely fly. They are for intelligence gathering, they could be used to search for lost climbers in middle of a snowstorm or collect information about crop health. There are millions of creative uses for drones. They could be used to deliver high priority packages for FedEx, improve farming techniques, film movie stunts. Pass laws that limit the government, and what they can do over my property. Do not pass laws that limit what private industry can do on private property.

      • 3H

        71, as far as I can tell, doesn’t ban drones outright, but rather restricts their uses. I think that is a reasonable place to start. I don’t care if you want to fly drones on your own property. The minute you cross over into mine, though, we have a problem.

        Careful watch should be conducted to make sure the bill isn’t overly broad, but I think some concerns need to be address.

        Of course laws need to be passed, sometimes, that limit what private industry can on on their own property – because frequently their actions have consequences that extend beyond their own property line. Create pollution on their land is fine – as long as the wind doesn’t carry it over to mine. Oh, and as long as they don’t poison their own workers in the process. A blanket statement like that is ridiculous.

      • Tim Lyman

        Any atmospheric conditions in which human pilots could not safely fly would also limit the use of drones.

        Sure, they could be used to sprinkle fairy dust and dollar bills, but they won’t. They’ll be used to spy on people and, potentially, kill them.

    • 3H

      I think if you accept a standard definition of drone as any unmanned, remotely operated vehicle, then there are a myriad of operations available. The mars rover could be considered a drone. Certainly many of the underwater submersibles are drones that are used for scientific purposes. They are not just for warfare or intelligence gathering (I’m assuming you’re using that term in the CIA/Military/Police meaning).

      However, 71, as far as I can tell, is not intended to be a blanket prohibition on drones, so as long as it is carefully crafted than I can support it.

  • mike

    Any drone that helps keep me and my family safe from bad peoples is OK with me. Fly on brother!! Keep us safe.

  • zanzara2041

    Google Earth is a drone.

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