Commercial Drones Are Now Approved for Aerial Surveillance

Illustration for article titled Commercial Drones Are Now Approved for Aerial Surveillance

Creepy drone spying is no longer just the purview of the military in the United States. The Federal Aviation Administration recently cleared two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for commercial use surveilling the Alaskan coast, marking a sharp turn for the future of domestic drone use.

One of the drones, an Insitu Scan Eagle 200, will be used by a "major energy company" for monitoring migrating whales and icebergs off the Alaskan coast, while the other one, an AeroVironment PUMA, will monitor oil spills up in the Beaufort Sea. These are the first of what will surely be a significant number of commercial drones use for aerial surveillance around the country.

The arrival of certified commercial surveillance drones comes as a first step to measures in the FAA Reauthorization Act that President Obama renewed last year calling for new regulations to govern the use of commercial drones by 2015. Until now, drones could only fly with an experimental airworthiness and not for commercial purposes. Although that didn't stop photographers or journalists from using the machines for specialized purposes. It did kickstart an entire industry of commercial drone manufacturing to make sure there are UAVs ready for purchase when the FAA gives the go ahead.


Well, the agency's now got that ball rolling, and 2015 will be here before we know it. In the meantime, it's good to know that a couple of flying robots have their eyes on the Alaskan coast for us. At least, it's better than knowing a couple of flying robots have their eyes on us.

Image via AP

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Reminds me of the P-38 Lightning!