The inevitable flood of surveillance drones onto the domestic market is well underway.
As the Washington Post reported Tuesday, the FAA is seeking six sites in the U.S. where unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) intended for commercial use can be tested and certified. With the promise of jobs and investments, states are stiffly competing to host the sites:
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 requires the agency to select six UAS test sites to study the safety of UAS and certify commercial drones for use in the national airspace. The competition is fierce because the test sites hold the potential to create thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue, not counting the profits from commercial applications that will be tested at the sites.
The FAA received 25 applications from 24 states for the six spots earlier this year and is expected to make a decision in December.
While the Modernization and Reform Act deals with the practical safety of permitting drones in commercial airspace, privacy advocates rightly argue that on a national scale, the policy infrastructure is not in place to ensure civilian privacy as the drone economy grows. However, as I wrote earlier this year on the proliferation of domestic drones:
There’s no stopping the spread of drone technology to police and corporations — there’s too much money to be made. Seventy percent of drone manufacturers are based in the U.S. according to a 2011 study by the global marketing research group Lucintel; total revenue from unmanned aircraft systems is expected to exceed $7 billion over the next decade.