Georgia sheriff’s department eager to use drones

25 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

5 Ways Unmanned Drones Could Affect The American Food Supply.

When it comes to drones, “your imagination can go pretty wild in terms of what would be possible,” says Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union. “If it was up to me, we’d already be using them,” said Chochol, who refers to the devices as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles because the word “drone” is often associated with military-type operations. “I’m just waiting to get final FAA approval because all government use is regulated by them.” Columbia County has not received a timetable for how long the approval process will take, but members of the sheriff’s office have been experimenting with the technology for nearly a year.

Increased efficiency could mean lower costs for consumers and less impact on the environment if farmers used fewer chemicals because drones showed them exactly where to spray. He also served on the Arkansas Air Museum Board. “I did some RC stuff in the past when it was aircraft instead of helicopters and quadcopters, and I’ve dabbled back and forth with getting a pilot’s license,” he said. “I’m the only one who flies our drone, because we want to be very careful. I don’t fly at night, I don’t let the aircraft get out of my line of sight, and I don’t fly too high.” For Smith, erring on the side of caution is a matter of best practice. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a trade group, says agriculture could account for 80 percent of all commercial drone use, once government regulations allow it. But with assistance from a Special Response Team, the devices have been on simulated manhunts over a wooded area at the training site. “And they’re a lot less expensive than helicopters,” he said. “Also, especially during winter months, when a person goes missing, they need to be found quickly.

We’re confident that using a UAV, which is equipped with a GoPro (camera), will help us find people faster.” “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Cherepy said of the technology. “I thought they were popular last year, but we can’t keep them on the shelves right now. The Federal Aviation Administration recently added further guidelines for drone use. “We’re not going to push those limits,” he said. “We are fortunate that we shot most of our footage before the FAA started really cracking down on drone use.” “There really are a lot of pictures you can take with the GoPro attachment,” he said. “When we knocked out the press box wall, we were able to get some great images from 30 feet in the air that we just couldn’t have gotten any other way.” “For last fall’s alumni magazine, we featured an aerial photo taken in the 1920s alongside an aerial photo from about the same spot now,” he said. “Things that used to require an airplane, we’re now able to do a lot more cost effectively with unmanned aviation.” “Drones have really become a political football with interest groups, business, politicians and others arguing with the FAA over how to handle the regulations,” Smith said. “Right now we’re dealing with suggestions, but we’ve cut back on flying our drone.” “We borrowed their drone to test it out, but the College of Agriculture has one, too, because there is potential for drones to have a huge economic impact on farming,” he said. “That’s one of the problems with the FAA regulations, though, because they’re treating unmanned aircraft the same as an airplane. We’ve sold well over 100 since the end of Thanksgiving.” “When you turn on TV, so much of the talk is about spying,” he said. “And that’s ridiculous.

The first agriculture drones are looking at massive fields of crops to scout out where crops are too wet, too dry, too diseased or too infested with pests. Some people go to a bar or play golf to relax, but for us, we enjoy going to a field and flying.” Drones provide plenty of work-related opportunities, from real estate agents to roofers to journalists and filmmakers to disaster relief organizations.

A controversial case occurred Oct. 17, 2011, when a quadcopter was used near the University of Virginia to take pictures and video, according to a $10,000 citation issued against the device’s owner by the FAA. According to FAA regulations, the use of unmanned aircraft for hobby and recreation purposes is generally limited to below 400 feet, away from airports and air traffic, and the devices must stay within sight of the operator. “If operated in an unsafe manner, they can pose a hazard to other aircrafts or people on the ground,” Dorr said. “While many are small, their propellers turn at several thousand RPM and they generally carry a battery with some weight. Flown unsafely, they could cause personal injury, property damage or damage to an airplane’s engine or structure.” “Laws restrict drones from flying within the fence-line of our property,” she said. “And we’ve never had anyone disobey that law.

If a plot of farmland is infested with weeds, for example, a farmer could spray a small amount of herbicide just in that area, instead of an entire field, to kill them. Kevin Price of the Iowa-based drone company RoboFlight Systems says that kind of precision would put farmers at a huge advantage, helping them reduce the costs of chemicals and their application. The data comes back as bands of color, and “if all of the cattle look green and one looks dark purple then that one has a higher temperature,” she said. Matt Scassero, the project director, says the idea is that a laser-based sensor mounted on a drone would allow scientists to see through the water and measure the size of a school of fish.

Karney of the American Farm Bureau Federation says there is a “major concern” about those kinds of films and his group intends to work with the Obama administration and Congress to address it.

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