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Detroit suburb to consider banning drones

Don McCullough
Flickr Creative Commons

The City Council of Ferndale will discuss an ordinance tonight that would ban drones from the Detroit suburb's airspace. The proposed ban would not apply to law enforcement, and people would be able to fly drones over their own property.

The ordinance says unmanned drones raise privacy and public safety concerns. 

Joe Gacioch, Ferndale's assistant city manager, said as drones become more popular and widely available, these issues need to be addressed. "What are the definitions of public privacy as it relates to drones?" said Gacioch. "What are considerations for liability in, let's say, an accident or failure of operations of drones?" 

Gacioch said he does not expect a vote at tonight's city council meeting. "Tonight's purpose is really to get the conversation going for council just to consider how they might regulate," said Gacioch. "This is an example of the city council wanting to be proactive on an emerging technology."

The Federal Aviation Administration granted approval in March to the Michigan State Police to use drones to aid in emergencies and public safety efforts.  And earlier this month, Governor Rick Snyder signed into law a ban on using drones to hunt animals, fish or harass hunters. 

Gacioch said it could make sense for Ferndale to wait to decide on an ordinance until the FAA adopts final rules on drones because the federal rules would trump local regulations.