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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What’s Your Major? Drones.

This photo taken March 26, 2013, shows flight test pilot Alex Gustafson carrying an InsituScanEagle unmanned aircraft in preparation for a flight in Arlington, Ore. It’s a good bet that in the not-so-distant future aerial drones will be part of Americans’ everyday lives, performing countless useful functions. (Don Ryan/AP)

This photo taken March 26, 2013, shows flight test pilot Alex Gustafson carrying an InsituScanEagle unmanned aircraft in preparation for a flight in Arlington, Ore. It’s a good bet that in the not-so-distant future aerial drones will be part of Americans’ everyday lives, performing countless useful functions. (Don Ryan/AP)

A recent study estimates the drone industry in the U.S. could create 70,000 jobs and generate $13 billion in economic activity in the coming decade.

Industry experts are expecting the demand for drones, sometimes called unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), to explode.

“We have a joke around the office: five or six years ago we couldn’t spell UAS, now we have a whole program on it.”
– Ken Polovits

The Arlington, Virginia-based Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International says the prospects for the unmanned aircraft industry are “virtually limitless.”

American colleges and universities are trying to fill that demand. Nearly 100 schools have applied for permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate drones.

Some schools already have programs in operation. The University of North Dakota’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences provided one of the first programs in the country.

“We have a joke around the office: five or six years ago we couldn’t spell UAS, now we have a whole program on it,” Ken Polovits, assistant dean at the School of Aerospace Sciences told Here & Now.

Currently, private businesses are not allowed to operate drones, but the FAA expects to have the initial steps for allowing the private use of drones in place by 2015.

“The real roadblock there is integrating the drones into commercial airspace,” Polovits said. “The FAA is currently looking into building six test sites where they would study how to do that. But the technology is there.”

There has been some push back from states who are nervous about the use of drones. So far, 37 states have introduced legislation placing limits on the use of drones.

Florida is poised to pass a law that would require the police to get a warrant before using drones for surveillance.

Idaho and Tennessee already have similar laws on the books. Earlier this year Charlottesville, Va. banned drones from city airspace.

Guests:

  • Ken Polovitz, University of North Dakota’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.
  • Zachary Waller, graduated from the University of North Dakota’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences with a major in unmanned aircraft systems operations.

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  • Dcf

    Calling them by another name does not make them anything other than drones. This is just a new twist on the old nuclear bomb scam from the ’50′s when, in an attempt to wash the blood off of them, there were attempts to use them for such “enlightened” purposes as creating a deeper bay in Nome, Alaska. Fortunately “pushback” stopped that nonsense. Now we are so owned by the military-industrial complex, that the wide use of drones for the purposes of “law enforcement” will be the standard in a few years. Because they will be the only ones who can afford them.

  • http://twitter.com/Osomotley Simon Ward

    This rush to careers of the future are going to end up flat. Once the technology is mature the jobs will dry up leaving only room for engineers to design and repair. I wish college would step back and see that they are asking students to gear up for a future that will soon become so simple they won’t be needed. 

  • John C. Ratlif

    I listened to you program on “drones,” or unmanned aerial vehicles, with interest.  One thing that is not readily known is that because of the use of these UAVs (if that’s the correct term), pilots have not been placed in jeopardy.  During the Vietnam War, I was a USAF Pararescueman and our main job was to pick up downed airmen who had been shot down by the enemy.  This mission has largely disappeared with the use of UAVs.  It has probably saved a number of pilots from the experience of being shot down in very dangerous circumstances.  

  • anon

    “Commercial applications…not even remotely related to surveillance…”

    I’m sure Google and Facebook thought they weren’t in the surveillance game either when they started. As for “limitless prospects,” I guess that means any activity made easier by an airborne camera.

  • Marykfield

    One of the most interesting uses for distance information gathering in the agriculture field is to measure the growth of crops such as corn or wheat so that there will be enough freight cars available at harvest to transport the crop to their destinations. 

  • http://twitter.com/tigerzeye Cathy Crumley

    Hmm, airspace bought/sold in bundles of bandwidth, for cap n’ trade pollution rights, and now uaf/’drone’ industry gaining rts to purchase airspace for local police enf.,military security, border protection, new bidders in farm industries, etc…No known
     allocation air space for endangered species breathing space…

  • BL7565

    I don’t know
    about flying drones and won’t speak to the stress that a drone operator feels.
    I have flown attack helicopters for 15 years and loathe the insistence by the
    UAS community that the stress is the same. It simply isn’t. I know that it has
    to be nerve racking to keep one eye on your watch for Timmy’s soccer match (IRT
    comments from the interview) and another on the monitor waiting for PID and
    “kill chain” approval, but when a UAS goes down the operators can still
    go home to brood over a TV dinner. Yes, UAS have made a huge contribution to
    the GWOT, and we have barely scratched the surface on what they will do for the
    broader good/bad of mankind.

    UAS have a
    broad range of capabilities. Clearly, the kinetic application is one of the
    most controversial. They have persistence, time, sanctuary and simplicity on
    their side–their operators have the luxury of focusing on point targets for
    extended periods, allowing for engagement authority to crisscross broad
    checklists and make the decisive decision to pull the trigger. No one is
    entirely wrong, regardless of the outcome. In a complicated environment
    involving maneuver and integrated fires, UAS operators are at an extreme
    disadvantage. They simply don’t have the information and authority to make
    decisions quickly enough to seize advantage and sustain momentum. This is real
    time stuff, and the burden is placed on human beings at the scene. Maybe we
    will have a leap in technology that will somehow bridge this gap, kind of like
    the “Matrix.” Until then, the closest thing to reality for the UAS
    operator is clutching a cyanide capsule in his teeth while working–bite down
    hard if you make a catastrophic mistake–don’t confuse reality, otherwise.

  • mumblesomalley
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