by Kevin Tanner AJC OP Ed on Drone Policy study committee
A recent CNBC report estimated 200,000 drones were sold each month worldwide in 2014. It was also reported that yearly spending on drones will increase to $4.5 billion by 2020. This industry is increasing exponentially, with no end in sight. Unmanned aircraft will most certainly revolutionize how many industries operate.
The University of Georgia is working with the Georgia Department of Agriculture and South Georgia farmers to determine the benefits of using drones in our state’s agricultural industry. Utility companies, commercial contractors, real estate companies and government agencies are using drones to better perform countless tasks.
With the upsurge in drone flights, there come challenges. There are concerns about individuals and government agencies using drones to video and photograph private property without permission, and about safety for individuals on the ground and commercial aircraft sharing airspace with unmanned aircraft. Citizens question if restrictions should be placed on law enforcement’s ability to collect evidence without a search warrant while using a drone.
These questions and concerns were not on anyone’s radar a few short years ago.
Instead of attempting piecemeal legislation on drones, the state House of Representatives felt it was better to thoughtfully examine this complex issue. It created the Drone Study Committee.
Over the next few months, we will hold public meetings to hear testimony from stakeholders and citizens. Based on the committee’s report, I believe legislation will be introduced in the 2016 General Assembly that attempts to address the many concerns we are anticipating.
It is our desire that citizens’ privacy and safety are protected while allowing the unmanned aircraft industry to continue to flourish in Georgia.
We also plan to hold a joint meeting with a subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee to look for ways the state can encourage growth in this industry. With the billions that will be spent on drones, there is a great opportunity for Georgia to attract manufacturers and other businesses in this field.
Our first meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Georgia Tech Research Facility, 250 14th St., Atlanta. We will hear from Tech researchers working on the cutting edge of this technology. We will also hear from FAA officials about regulations.
I encourage anyone who has an interest to attend or to contact my office at 404-656-0152.