drones

On a breezy morning next to a cornfield in rural Weld County, Colo., Jimmy Underhill quickly assembles a black and orange drone with four spinning rotors.

"This one just flies itself," he says. "It's fully autonomous."

Underhill is a drone technician with Agribotix, a Colorado-based drone startup that sees farmers as its most promising market. Today he's training his fellow employees how to work the machine in the field.

Where Can Drones Fly? Legal Limits Are Up In the Air

Aug 10, 2014

It's getting easier for the average civilian to own drones.

The word may bring to mind million-dollar jets that carry bombs, but a drone is any aircraft that doesn't have passengers or a pilot onboard. Some look like sophisticated remote-control helicopters and model airplanes.

They're available online and in stores, some for less than $100. But whether and where owners are allowed to fly those drones falls in a legal gray area.

An independent journalist says he's found a way around the so-called "ag-gag" laws by flying drones over large livestock operations to document animal welfare problems and pollution.

Will Potter, a Washington D.C.-based author and blogger, recently raised $75,000 on Kickstarter to buy the drones and other equipment to investigate animal agriculture in the U.S.

Drone Wars: Who Owns The Air?

May 30, 2014

There are lots of entrepreneurs who would love to fly drones — tiny unmanned aircraft — all over the country. They dream of drones delivering packages and taking photos, but there's a battle in the courts right now standing in their way. The battle is about whether it's legal for drones to take to the sky.

The question at the core of the battle: Who owns the air?

There was a near-miss in the skies above Tallahassee recently. According to a Federal Aviation Administration official, an American Airlines regional jet nearly collided with a "small, remotely piloted aircraft" — a drone — cruising 2,300-feet above sea level.

Exactly who was flying the unmanned aircraft remains unknown, but drones are becoming increasingly common in U.S. skies. This week in North Dakota, the FAA began allowing tests of drones for agricultural purposes.

A Senate-approved bill to prohibit the camera-equipped unmanned aircraft known as drones from overflying chemical plants and refineries crashed and burned in the House Criminal Justice Committee Tuesday.

“Drones are becoming more and more prevalent,” explained the bill’s author, Baton Rouge Senator Bodi White. “And it’s just an effort to try to at least have some rules or laws for the state of Louisiana with our critical infrastructure.”