Unmanned aircraft could be a good thing in agriculture

A number of states have introduced legislation and three have passed bills prohibiting the use of unmanned aircraft in their states. But there are proponents who say unmanned aircraft could be used for all sorts of good including agriculture. Gretchen West is executive director of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a non-profit trade association with 7,500 members from around the globe. She says the unmanned aircraft technology started decades ago and has been developed mainly for the military but we are now seeing a shift into the civil market, law enforcement, federal agencies and such. West says they would like to see the technology move into the commercial market and believes agriculture will be a big use.

First off, the Federal Aviation Administration has to clear the commercial use of unmanned aircraft. The first step in that journey could come in September of 2015. Beyond that, the technology would need to be refined for agricultural use but that could evolve quickly. West says Yamaha is already using unmanned helicopters to spray crops in Japan.

West says efforts by states to limit or completely ban unmanned aircraft could become a roadblock to development of the technology.

AUDIO:West talks about the possibilities 11:55 mp3

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  • It is time for all of the Chicken Littles in the states to calm down, take a deep breath and think through this. The use of unmanned aircraft is a cost saver for governments, NGOs and individuals. Any information you can collect with a drone would probably also be available with satelitte reconnasiance. If they don’t use drones, which are somewhat unobtrusive, they will have to use boots on the ground reconnasiance which is very intrusive, as well as expensive.

    How about if you legislators work on good laws that will limit the use of information gathered instead of trying to limit the vehicle for collecting the information. In the mean time, all of us private individauls can work on get our place camera ready so we don’t have to feel so paranoid.

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