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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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  • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @09:57AM (#47340455)

    I'm sorry for those losing out here, but I also don't see why they should be allowed to operate unmanned aerial vehicles with surveillance capabilities any more than anyone else.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @10:13AM (#47340531) Journal

    I also don't see why they should be allowed to operate unmanned aerial vehicles with surveillance capabilities any more than anyone else.

    The default should be yes, you're allowed to do it as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. Going to a park or a field and flying a model airplane (or drone, however you want to call it) doesn't hurt anyone, so it should be allowed.

    One of the main arguments against centralized government authority is that it's too big to take into account the concerns of everyone, so small constituencies get trampled. That is the case here, people who were not hurting anyone are now prevented from a healthy hobby, and have very little recourse.

  • by zippthorne (748122) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @10:25AM (#47340609) Journal

    I'm not sure that the FAA has the authority to regulate the quadcopter in the first place, but the quadcopter-with-a-gun is certainly a weapon, so why wouldn't it be protected by the second amendment?

    side note: To all those who say, "because that sounds super dangerous" the response is to draft a constitutional amendment to allow the government to regulate more things. Simply "interpreting" away the teeth of the second amendment merely encourages contempt of the constitution and all the other things protected by other clauses and amendments are sure to be abridged in the same manner.

    Further side note: Perhaps it's me, but I've noticed over the past few years that while both congress and the people are interested in "regulating drones," both parties seem to have very different ideas about what will be regulated. Congress seems to want to regulate the use of drones by private individuals, but the clamor from the public seems to be about the use of drones by the state for surveillance or armed action. The whole thing is shaping up not unlike the calls for "immigration reform" where each party's ideas about what the reform should be are other parties' ideas about what needs to be fixed.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @10:46AM (#47340713)
    You know, I'm pretty sure that 18th century militia didn't wield pump-action shotguns all that often, either...
  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @10:47AM (#47340715) Homepage

    That said, I don't see how the FAA's rules are enforceable, nor do I see how the FAA can actually claim to have the authority to make rules in an an area that, as far as I can tell, congress has never granted them the power to do.

    Enforceability is one thing but a few high profile cases will take the wind out of many peoples rotors. As to whether or not the FAA can regulate UAVs - it's pretty clear that they have broad powers of regulation when it comes to aircraft safety. UAVs that potentially serve as hazards to aircraft in flight or around a runway would easily fall under FAA jurisdiction. Kids flying something in their back yard - that's the big issue. If you look at the one 'hobby' that UAVs most closely resemble, model rocketry, you find a reasonable distinction [nar.org] between activities that are regulated by the FAA and ones that are not. It did take an act of Congress to carve this 'exception' out so the assumption is that, yes, the FAA could do this but the Congress doesn't want them to.

    We may need to see something similar.

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

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @10:48AM (#47340723)

    They do something! They make my hipster hobby illegal!

    In principle, this is a good change. The regulations should be not be based on "hobby" vs "commercial". They should instead be based on size, weight, speed, altitude, method of control (line of sight, or not, etc.), capabilities (camera, machine gun, etc.), and where it is flown (public vs private land). If you are flying a drone less than 5kg, on your own property, and keeping it below 100 meters, it should be anything goes, with no permit required. After that, there should be reasonable restrictions.

  • by russotto (537200) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @12:53PM (#47341275) Journal

    The difference is that few would argue that going hunting by connecting your gun to a couple of $9 servos, and operating it over a glitchy radio link where you have a tiny field of view through a bad camera, and it may randomly go off if you lose radio is a sane thing to do.

    The FAA opposes that, but they're perfectly fine with operating it over a glitchy radio link where all you have is a Mk I eyeball located a thousand feet away.

  • Re:The Goggles! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xdor (1218206) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @01:47PM (#47341483)
    Let existing state nuance laws handle the peeping-tom problems
  • by oursland (1898514) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @04:11PM (#47342101)
    The problem the FAA is currently faced with is that hobbyists aren't flying within a field, AMA or otherwise, but rather exceeding 400 ft, flying over populated areas and highways, and flying into controlled airspace. The only new restriction that the FAA is proposing is removing FPV flying from the domain of "model aircraft", which limits the pilots ability to perform these unsafe activities.

    Ars Technica just published an article demonstrating the activities that irresponsible people (the author) do with this technology: link [arstechnica.com]

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