The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released the location of sites where researchers will develop and test drones for safety during flights while occupying commercial airspace.
Michael Huerta, administrator for the FAA said: “Safety continues to be our first priority as we move forward with integrating unmanned aircraft systems into U.S. airspace.”
Twenty-five sites have been identified for consideration by the FAA because of their geographical location which would facilitate commercial development in those areas.
According to the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems, projections assume that this move will create “100,000 jobs and generate $82 billion in economic activity in the decade after the aircraft are allowed in general airspace.”
These sites include:
• Universities in Alaska, Hawaii, Texas, Virginia, New Jersey and Oregon
• State of Nevada
• NY Griffiss International Airport
• North Dakota Department of Commerce
• Virginia Polytechnic Institute
Anthony Foxx, secretary of the Department of Transportation (DoT) explained : “These test sites will give us valuable information about how best to ensure the safe introduction of this advanced technology into our nation’s skies.”
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said in a statement : “This is a really big deal. It could mean billions of dollars in new investment, thousands of technical jobs for our state. It [would] make us an anchor tenant in a new and growing industry.”
The Pentagon has released a newly revised 25-year roadmap that places drones in a more prominent role in combat.
• unmanned aerial systems (UAS)
• unmanned ground systems (UGS)
• unmanned maritime systems (UMS)
Currently, drones are capable of feeding live images and video to remote operators and transfer data through satellite use; however they require dedicated bandwidth and dedicated satellites provided by the Department of Defense (DoD).
Software technology is expected to allow drones to recognize a potential target and focus on all digital information available on that “object of interest”.
The report reads: “The difference between execution and performance is that the former simply executes a preprogrammed plan whereas performance is associated with mission outcomes that can vary even during a mission and require deviation from preprogrammed tasks.”
Weapons will have to be designed for drones with specific munitions that can be multipurpose.
By 2020 or 2030, the US Armed Forces expect that nanoparticles will be utilized. Recent experiments have shown that aluminum powder would prove to be promising.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) asserted that the use of drones in American skies were for assurance of public safety. In collaboration with corporations specializing in surveillance, DHS has made outward requests for drone manufacturers to have their products used for spying on Americans – and get paid for it.
The DHS has teamed up with the World Surveillance Group, Inc., to develop technologies specializing in “chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, explosive (collectively, CBRNE), command, control, computers, communication, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR), and unmanned aerial systems (UAS).”
In July, Janet Napolitano, former Secretary of DHS relayed to a House Committee meeting that drones would be useful for public safety or a disaster scenario.
There is also the specific testing of a Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety that would be used for encompassing surveillance.
Napolitano said: “With respect to Science and Technology, that directorate, we do have a funded project, I think it’s in California, looking at drones that could be utilized to give us situational awareness in a large public safety [matter] or disaster, such as a forest fire, and how they could give us better information.”
The federal agency also put out a solicitation for “participation in the Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety (RAPS) project from the small unmanned aerial systems (SUAS) for transition to its customers” to use drones in American skies for more than the expressed purpose of spying on US citizens to secure their safety.
Robert Mueller, former director of the FBI, told Congress in June that his agency “occasionally uses the unmanned aerial vehicles but was developing guidelines in anticipation of issues that will arise as they become more omnipresent.”
Earlier this year, David Petraeus, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), suggested that the White House approve an expansion of the CIA’s drone fleet to extend the agency’s ability to survey under a paramilitary force.
This would add 10 more drones to the 35 already used in counterterrorism operations.
When it comes to drones, disturbing comments have been made by members of the Obama administration.
Back in May, Attorney General Eric Holder pointed out: “Based on generations-old legal principles and Supreme Court decisions handed down during World War II, as well as during the current conflict, it is clear and logical that United States citizenship alone does not make such individuals immune from being targeted.”