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The drones are coming! The drones are coming! (So let's be ready)

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Michigan State Police drone

A state task force has issued recommendations for the regulation of unmanned aerial systems (aka drones) in Michigan.
There's hardly an industry in Michigan today that doesn't have a possible use for drones.  They could do crop inspections for farmers, bridge inspections and wildlife surveys for the state, traffic enforcement for police, and help real estate agents sell homes. 
But they may not be safe or desirable everywhere.  
Mackinac Island probably won't want drones spooking the horses, for example.   So the state may need a law that allows special exemptions.
Mike Trout is with the state Office of Aeronautics within the Michigan Department of Transportation.  He also chaired the 27-member task force.
He says the state should get ready now for the day when the FAA allows drones to be flown outside the line of sight.
"We don't want to have a patchwork of regulations, we want some comprehensive laws, if they need to be enacted, and done in a thoughtful manner," says Trout.
Other recommendations include an education campaign for the public, and expanding the mission of the American Center for Mobility, a test site for autonomous vehicles, to include unmanned and autonomous aerial systems, 
The recommendations are heading to the governor and the state legislature.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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