Drones, as they are called, make great subjects of conversation, to say the least. The unmanned aerial vehicles are remote-controlled devices of various sizes with the ability to hover over areas previously unreachable.
Tom Kaminski is a Madison College Instructor. “These things can navigate unknown spaces; they can, for example, fly into buildings that might have been damaged by earthquakes and look around. You know, the technology is evolving so quickly here that there are many possible applications for what’s happening.”
There are both recreational and practical uses for the drones, Kaminski says, such as photography. “One can actually put little video cameras on this — and good recording devices — and actually kind of fly around as though you’re in the plane. That is useful for spying, but it’s also useful for exploring your environment.”
Realtors might use drones to get good images of property; conservationists could survey wildlife and monitor nesting behavior of animals; and businesses can take inventory of their stock yard.
Kaminski says there are pros and cons, though, with regard to jobs. “People talked about when robots were originally introduced back in the 1960s ‘Oh my God this is going to eliminate jobs,’ and it definitely does. There’s do doubt. On the other hand it also creates jobs for technicians to operate and train and work and build these things, too.”
Students in Kaminski’s Manufacturing Systems class have recently designed and built a variety of these flying robots that are “opening up a whole new world of possibilities.” Lawmakers worry about an individual’s expectation of privacy and want to prevent an unscrupulous drone owner with a camera from spying on people.
The Assembly Committee on Government Operations and State Licensing is taking public input on restricting the use of drones and providing a penalty for violators.
AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:54