Cities, States, Industry Pile On Drone Debate

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Charlottesville, Va., says it's the first civic jurisdiction to pass a resolution opposing the use of unmanned aerial systems based on the "serious threat to the privacy and constitutional rights of the American people" it believes the widespread use of drones presents. The resolution by the Charlottesville city council calls for a two-year moratorium on the use of drones in Virginia and urges the state and the federal government to ban drones from being equipped with weapons in domestic airspace. The resolution came as Obama administration officials were defending drone strike policies against suspected terrorists abroad. The American Civil Liberties Union says nine states are considering legislation to restrict the use of drones. Meanwhile, those who want to use drones for commercial purposes continue to press for laws that will accommodate pilotless aircraft in the National Airspace System.

While the focus on drones has generally been on their military and law-enforcement use, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International says that's not where the money will be made. "Agriculture is going to be the big market," AUVSI Vice President Chris Mailey told Wired. He said drones developed during the 1990s in Japan now do most of that country's aerial spraying and there are many uses for drones down on the farm. "Spraying, watering -- there's a whole market for precision agriculture, and when you put that cost-benefit together, farmers will buy [drones]," he said. Hollywood has also jumped on the drone bandwagon. The Motion Picture Association of America says it can get better shots with less danger to film crews by using camera drones, and moviemakers are already using the technology extensively in countries that permit it. For instance, some of the spectacular sequences in the opening of the recent James Bond series release Skyfall were shot from drones. It's not just action movies that benefit from the versatility of drones, however. Some of the scenes in The Smurfs 2 were shot from drones in France.