The state Massachusetts Department of Transportation is considering the use of drones to assist with roadwork and construction, reports the Boston Herald. Using drones for inspections under Boston’s bridges and in the tunnels of the Big Dig makes sense to many, but the ACLU still feels the need for more regulations where drones are concerned.
A report by the Aeronautics Division of the MassDOT says that they plan to “study … the potential opportunities for drones in MassDOT work… Aeronautics could use the drones for inspection of the 36 public-use airports under the division’s purview, or for aircraft accident investigations,” the report states. “Other MassDOT divisions may consider drones for tasks such as highway bridge or transit tunnel inspections.” The agency is also starting a “working group” to address potential state regulations on the use of drones, according to the report.
Spokesman Mike Verseckes told the paper that “no policy decisions have been made at this time,” and noted that MassDOT has played a “supporting role” in federal policy talks concerning “potential and safe applications of advancements in drone technology.”
This is a reference to the Joint Base Cape Cod UAS test site, one of six FAA designated sites designed to test drone technology. The Cape Cod site, announced last year, was touted as providing Massachusetts a lead in the race to benefit from the drone industry.
“With the selection of Joint Base Cape Cod as a test site operator for the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems program, Massachusetts will be well positioned to be a national leader in development of the highest operational standards and strongest privacy protections for drones as they prepare to take flight in U.S. airspace,” said Senator Edward J. Markey in December when the announcement was first made. “This selection recognizes the importance of Massachusetts’ military installations and our special role as an innovation hub while helping the Commonwealth lead the way in this emerging, job creating space.”
Not everyone is entirely enthusiastic about drones. Kade Crockford, director of the Massachusetts ACLU’s Technology for Liberty project ,told the Boston Herald that MassDOT will need to regulate drones to protect people’s privacy, including the unintended gathering of individual’s data.
“That sounds like a great use for a drone,” she said, concerning the proposed use for bridge and tunnel inspections. “But as long as drones are unregulated, some people in the commonwealth might say, ‘What about my privacy?’ ”
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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