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Toys United States Build

That Toy Is Now a Drone 268

Posted by timothy
from the arbitrary-power dept.
fluxgate (2851685) writes "A notice from the FAA announced earlier this week just turned a bunch of kids' toys into drones. In the past, the FAA had made the distinction between model aircraft (allowed) and drones (prohibited without special permission) according to whether they were used for recreation (okay) or commercial purposes (verboten). Now they have further narrowed the definition of model aircraft: If you fly it through video goggles, it no longer qualifies. This move eliminates First Person View (FPV) radio control flying. I'm an editor at IEEE Spectrum with a special interest and blogged about this disturbing development as soon as I heard the news."
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That Toy Is Now a Drone

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  • Not anything new (Score:5, Informative)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @11:25AM (#47340611)

    The FAA has always had this rule.

    To be a flying a 'model' you have to fly by line of sight, i.e. with your eyes on the model, not via electronics. Its been this way for years.

  • by bongey (974911) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @11:55AM (#47340755)

    No the AMA(Academy of Model Aeronautics) is also going against the rule. Another case of a slashdot reader who didn't actually read the article.
    "The FAA interpretive rule effectively negates Congress' intentions, and is contrary to the law. Section 336(a) of the Public Law states that, 'the Federal Aviation Administration may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft', this interpretive rule specifically addresses model aircraft, effectively establishes rules that model aircraft were not previously subject to and is in direct violation of the congressional mandate in the 2012 FAA reauthorization bill."

      "AMA cannot support this rule." said AMA Executive Director Dave Mathewson. "It is at best ill-conceived and at worst intentionally punitive and retaliatory. The Academy strongly requests the FAA reconsider this action. The AMA will pursue all available recourse to dissuade enactment of this rule."

  • by lgw (121541) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @01:46PM (#47341233) Journal

    In coding terms, the militia part is a comment, the right part is code. The militia part isn't part of the operative law of the constitution; never was. It clarifies intent, however.

    But viewed in the context of the time, with a bunch of ordinary people with weaponry in their private possession (including military-grade stuff) just having used that to overthrow an oppressive government, it's quite clear the intent there was "a check on government overreach". Even through the 19th century, it was common for 1%ers to buy cannon, Gatling guns and other clearly military hardware, and bring it along to war, or donate it to the town for local defense. Due to some remarkably stupid procurement decisions by the US military, we would likely have been soundly defeated in the Spanish-American War had it not been for rich guys bringing along artillery they bought themselves (and Roosevelt basically inventing the modern "base of fire" infantry tactic with those Gatling guns.)

    It's only been in the past century that we've had this notion that the right to keep and bear arms had secret limitations written in invisible ink.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2014 @02:32PM (#47341425)

    Ask the French who armed, trained, officered, equipped and funded your army and Navy if it was your right to bear arms that made a difference. Hint: without foreign intervention it never would have worked then. See Syria for how well it works now. It didn't work then and it doesn't work now.

  • by oursland (1898514) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @03:05PM (#47341563)
    I doubt it is just "a few idiots". The access to these devices has increased to the point where many people can now gain access to them, particularly those who don't give much thought to their actions. Ars Technica got their hands on a DJI Phantom and IMMEDIATELY flew above 400 ft, over other people's property, over crowded areas, over highways, and in dangerous areas (near power lines, etc): link [arstechnica.com].
  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @04:03PM (#47341785)
    I seem to have had to keep repeating this endlessly on Slashdot, but a Federal NTSB judge [politico.com] has already ruled [bloomberg.com] that the FAA does not have lawful authority to regulate low-altitude models or drones, regardless of whether they are being used commercially.

    The FAA has appealed the decision, and so far seems hell-bent on regulating as much as it can before it gets slapped down in higher court. Which it surely will... Congress simply hasn't given them legal authority to regulate such things. They're acting like the EPA has been recently, seemingly trying to greedily grab up all the usurped authority they can before the November elections.
  • by naughtynaughty (1154069) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @07:04PM (#47342521)
    While there have been a few comments claiming otherwise, the simple fact is that not all airspace in the US can be regulated by the FAA. The US Supreme Court ruled in US v Causby in 1946 ""We have said that the airspace is a public highway. Yet it is obvious that if the landowner is to have full enjoyment of the land, he must have exclusive control of the immediate reaches of the enveloping atmosphere. Otherwise buildings could not be erected, trees could not be planted, and even fences could not be run. The principle is recognized when the law gives a remedy in case overhanging structures are erected on adjoining land.[9] The landowner owns at least as much of the space above the ground as he can occupy or use in connection with the land. See Hinman v. Pacific Air Transport, 84 F.2d 755. The fact that he does not occupy it in a physical sense — by the erection of buildings and the like — is not material." The FAA has jurisdiction of the navigable airways, it does not have jurisdiction over YOUR use of the airspace immediately above your backyard and they cannot regulate the use of drones of model aircraft outside the navigable airspace any more than they can require you to get a permit to plant a tree in your backyard. Now the FAA won't admit it and likes to pretend that they have control of the air around your head, but it is clear from US v Causby that "must have exclusive control of the immediate reaches of the enveloping atmosphere".
  • by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @08:23PM (#47342735) Journal
    As Eisenhower (the last decent Republican) said:

    A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction... This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence â" economic, political, even spiritual â" is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.

  • Re:The Goggles! (Score:5, Informative)

    by thegarbz (1787294) on Sunday June 29, 2014 @12:38AM (#47343361)

    You've just dangerously oversimplified a complicated problem.

    100m? What happens if you live on a property right in the flight path next to the airport?

    Weight? Weight means nothing. I accidentally ran into myself with my 6kg hexacopter doing a stupid stunt. I ended up with bruises and a few broken cheap plastic props. On the flip side one of my friends flies this tiny little ~2kg quadrocopter which he also flew into himself. He ended up in hospital thanks to very high speed carbon fibre blades slicing him up his arms and his face. He ended up with quite a few stitches as a result.

    So what's a reasonable restriction? Any quad could potentially kill someone. If you're interested in safety you'd need to take into account weight class, propeller speed, propeller type. Now you're talking private property, so if I fly my quad some 100m above my house on my private land and I have an incident, where will the quad end up? Prop failure, RF failure, actually every failure I've seen has resulted in a little multirotor craft not falling straight down. Maybe you should only be able to fly on private property if you live in an acreage?

    This is much more complicated than you think.

I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky

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