With a wealth of aerospace engineering talent located in the south and Silicon Valley's software programming talent up north, California has quietly grown into a hub for the growing U.S. drone industry. But, some in the industry are worried that a bill put forth by California's own Sen. Dianne Feinstein could push the brakes on innovation by placing onerous restrictions on consumer drone technologies.
Under pressure from Feinstein, the FAA recently released data showing 190 incidents during a nine-month period in 2014 where unauthorized drones were sighted by members of the general aviation community operating in areas where they were not authorized. Of those, some two dozen were reportedly described as close shaves, where a mid-air collision was narrowly avoided. In response, Sen. Feinstein has introduced the Consumer Drone Safety Act, which would create stricter federal laws governing consumer drone operations and require safety features to be incorporated into new consumer drones. “If we don’t act now, it’s only a matter of time before we have a tragedy on our hands,” Senator Feinstein said in a statement.
While many industry advocates dispute the meaningfulness of the FAA’s incident data, they’re more concerned about the fallout from what they see as legislative overkill.
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