Drones now doing business in the skies above you

Tony Bizjak
Sacramento Bee

Drones, once known as weapons of war, are undergoing a dramatic makeover as a hot new business tool in the sky. But, as with unmanned military craft, domestic drones are prompting concerns over safety and privacy.

No agency tracks how many drones are now buzzing overhead. But it’s likely hundreds a day hit the skies nationally on commercial missions, equipped with video cameras and launched by entrepreneurs looking for faster, cheaper and easier ways to provide services. In Northern California, lightweight drones, some hardly bigger than a Frisbee, shoot dramatic bird’s-eye videos of ski races in Tahoe and outdoor weddings in the foothills. They provide aerial footage for car commercials in Roseville and real estate promotions in West Sacramento.

The new breed of small domestic drones – known more formally as “unmanned aviation systems” or “remotely piloted aircraft” – can sell for $1,000 to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on size and sophistication. Users say operating the remote-controlled, spider-like craft costs far less than hiring a helicopter or plane, and allows users to fly into tight spaces, including indoors.

“Drones are the future of aviation,” said Patrick Egan, a Sacramento-based consultant and an advocate for unmanned commercial craft. “It is already here. They are around you. And they are flying and doing jobs, you just weren’t aware of them.”

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10 comments on “Drones now doing business in the skies above you
  1. I am waiting for the “collision” of technology and its’ outcome.

    Think of it this way: Three or four drones check out your sunbather and get distracted. Crash and fall on her. Wonder how that will work out….:-)

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    • Paladin Justice says:

      Funny. Yes, I can easily see all the neighborhood males sending their drones over to check her out, and then colliding. My first thought when commercial drones were brought up was crashes and lawsuits. Drone mishaps are going to put a lot of lawyers to work.

      In my snooty neighborhood where I used to live, there’ll probably be a race to see who is the first with a drone. But when everyone has his own drone, they won’t be a status symbol anymore.

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      • How about when somebody “commandeers” one of ’em and then does something bad with it? Who’s responsible then?

        Oh yeah, in my misspent youth we would send up Estes rockets with the camera in them…..To check out neighbors and….well, not quite high tech enough then for useful results…:-)

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    • Sunbather will be charged with a crime, probably for not having the appropriate sunbathing permit.

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  2. Paladin Justice says:

    Where do I get one? My hot neighbor sunbathes in the nude!

    But seriously, there are privacy and safety issues involved here. The one thing that will not help is the ham-handed federal government writing reams of rules and regulations for the drone industry. BTW, as much as I’ve seen about drones this is the first article that shows how small they are. I thought they were the size of regular private airplanes.

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