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Toys United States Build

That Toy Is Now a Drone 268

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 caseih ( 160668 ) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @10:55AM (#47340447)

    As an RC airplane enthusiast, who likes to dabble in FPV and UAVs, I must say that I'm not surprised. However my feelings are a mix of outrage at the FAA as well as understanding. When a few irresponsible people use their toys in ways that are, well irresponsible, I'm not at all surprised to see the FAA come down hard on everyone. I think in many ways this is a tragedy of the commons. A few idiots have actually ruined it for everyone. When a toy has the power to kill people, or to hurt them, and people do stupid things with them, then it ceases to be a toy. We are now seeing stories in the news almost weekly of stupid people flying their toys in reckless and dangerous ways.

    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.

    If FAA truly has the power to regulate a hobby, then they need to have a framework in place to allow this activity to continue safely. It's happening everywhere in the world. Banning it in the US will only put companies behind the curve who want to develop and use the technology.

  • by retroworks ( 652802 ) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @10:57AM (#47340459) Homepage Journal
    The article and comments miss the point. [] They are trying to regulate the use of the drones for peeping in neighbors yards and windows. They are trying to regulate it in a way without banning them, the over-reaction which will probably occur the first time a nude child shows up on youtube from an evil neighbor's google glasses. The CBS article - and most articles via - point out that you can buy these pocket yard drones on amazon and are more nuanced about the policy debate than the /. "government is gonna take your toys away" article.
  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @12:42PM (#47340979) Journal

    The American Medical Association? I should think not. If you did that, each drone would cost something north of 5 figures and could only be used by someone who went through a decades long training program while channeling hallucinations from some old dead Greek guy.

    Unfortunately, while it's the Academy of Model Aeronautics rather than the American Medical Association, this isn't far from the truth. The AMA isn't fond of FPV in the first place, it's just that they want to be the model aircraft police rather than the FAA, and the want to make it so model aircraft flying consists mostly of old retired guys (who went through a long training program, though without the dead Greek guy) flying planes in circles in AMA-approved locations.

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @01:21PM (#47341141)

    the second amendment is only tangentially related to a militia

    That would only be true if one had never read the Militia Act.

    Hint: it's not even in the fine print that pretty much every American citizen is a member of the Militia.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2014 @03:06PM (#47341571)

    Would you apply that same argument to the first amendment? At the time of the signing of the bill of rights, the most advanced methods of written communication was the hand-operated newspaper press. By your "no unforeseen technology" argument, the first amendment would not apply to telegraphs, radio, faxes, photographs(!), telephones, photocopiers, computers, the internet, wifi, etc.

    This is obviously insane. The first amendment is designed to protect the message. The medium used to transmit that message is irrelevant. Likewise, the second amendment is designed to protect the right and capability of the people to overthrow a government and establish a new one. If new technologies are invented, then the people must be allowed access to them, in order to maintain the balance of power.

  • No, It's very clear in the various letters it's there because they couldn't afford a standing army.

    The right to bear arms on the federal level is relatively new. Until it the 1970's cities and states determined local laws. Orrin Hatch commissioned a report, ignored the reports finding, but still waved it around as proof. hell, 100 years ago and more many cities and towns didn't allow firearms;

    Add to that congress can change the amendments should it like, this is really a PR issue created by the PR company the runs the NRA and also supports gun manufactures.
    Here is a little bit of history regarding the NRA and politics. Surprisingly accurate for a media report. []

  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @07:51PM (#47342665) Journal

    rich guys bringing along artillery they bought themselves

    That's the way wars worked before WW2, one of my distant ancestors donated 22 Viking boats and 300 paid soldiers to William the conqueror's invasion force and sailed across the English channel with him, his reward? - Wales (the country, not the animal). In fact this is how modern democracy first appeared, rich merchants basically forced the crown to sign the Magna Carta by withdrawing financial supports for the crown's military adventures. Even during and after WW2, rich merchants still own the means of production for military hardware. The one sign of hope is that for most (but not all) rich merchants - war is bad for business in the modern world.

  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @08:36PM (#47342753) Journal

    Of course they have the power to regulate quadcopeters. And they already do. They are regulated as recreational.

    Not really. The problem with federal government regulation is that they do not by default have jurisdiction unless it somehow it granted to them by the constitution. Hence the reason there is a recreational exemption to regulation- it doesn't influence interstate commerce or whatever other stretch of power they use in order to devise regulatory authority. The federal government is not like a traditional government that can just pass laws. It's original jurisdiction is outlined in the constitution and some court cases have expanded those to seem like it is all encompassing.

    This is even true for things like tractor trailer operations too. There are recreational exceptions to even that which do not require keeping a log book, having a DOT or MCC number or anything of the sort. There is even an exemption for a CDL requirement if it is what they consider recreational/hobby.

    If the exemption was not there, the regulation ability would not survive a court challenge by people clearly outside the scope of their regulatory jurisdiction.

  • by Crosshair84 ( 2598247 ) on Saturday June 28, 2014 @09:35PM (#47342875)
    Exactly. Imagine what they could do with everyday objects if they decided to do more than go for a body count and actually had the inclination to come over here. *cough* southern border *cough* Let me just throw out a few possibilities to make the point.

    Caltrops. This several thousand year old weapon, first used against humans and horses, remains effective today against vehicles with pneumatic tires. You can make them out of darn near any piece of thin metal. Just have every member go around town once a month to every hardware/big-box store in town and buy a box of nails or screws for cash. Pickup a gallon of milk or something else and you'll blend right in with the millions of other people picking up odds and ends for home.

    With a few basic tools and a welder a few guys can build caltrops assembly line style. Then just go out on the road just before rush hour when its dark or during ran so it's harder for the car behind to notice the bouncing spike thing coming from under your car and drop them one at a time through a hole in the floor. (Make sure you make sure they don't bounce into your own tires.) Home-rigged caltrops like these usually don't cause blowouts, but will case a slow leak that will deflate a tire. How many car and truck tires do you need to take out before you case a cluster of a traffic jam? Sure sounds lame, but what happens when your group does this once every month and there are 4 other cells in the area doing the same? In certain areas of the country this could bring commerce to a standstill.

    High tension wooden power pole in middle of nowhere + Chainsaw. Don't really need to explain this one further except that power pole wood is hard on chainsaw chains. Sure just one cell doing this would just be a nuisance, a couple dozen driving around the country doing this will quickly overwhelm the repair crews. Just cutting one will usually result in the neighboring poles holding the wires up for the time being, allowing an escape and not letting people know exactly when you did the deed.

    Supposedly Iran has sleeper cells in the US tasked with doing exactly this should the US attack Iran. No idea if it's true or not, but attacking infrastructure wouldn't exactly be a hard thing to do.

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller