Wisconsin lawmakers hinted Wednesday at the potential for unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, to take off in the state once they decide how to regulate them.
Assembly Committee on Jobs and the Economy chairman Rep. Adam Neylon, R-Pewaukee, said at a public hearing that Wisconsin is in a “great spot to embrace drones” as the Federal Aviation Administration begins granting broader permission to use the devices.
Neylon said many businesses have explored the technology, but previous FAA bans as well as state law prevent them from using drones. A 2013 state law bans drones that are capable of audio and video recording in areas where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
The FAA last year began granting permits on a case-by-case basis to companies that want to use drones. Under streamlined rules, the FAA will grant blanket flying permission to applicants with drones that weigh less than 55 pounds and agree to fly at heights of less than 200 feet, to fly only in daytime, and to keep it away from airports. That means some Wisconsin companies could use drones if state regulation permitted them.
Each state has the ability to regulate drone use within its borders.
With proper safety regulation, drones could benefit many state industries — including land surveillance, photography, farming, open pit mining and others — experts said. And though many favored minimal restrictions, all six speakers from Wisconsin said they’d accept any form of regulation if it meant drones could be used in the state.
Joseph Hupy, a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire professor who works in drone technology and geography, said those interested in using drones want minimal restrictions and prompt legislative action.
“They’re not looking for the Wild West, they’re looking for a clear set of rules and regulations that they can follow,” Hupy said.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com