Untapped potential, slow process for California UAS programs

Aside from a smattering of proposed legislation to support unmanned systems while addressing privacy concerns, California’s political machine continues to drag its feet on fully supporting the Federal Aviation Adminstration’s move to integrate unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace by 2015.

Aside from a smattering of proposed legislation to support unmanned systems while addressing privacy concerns, California’s political machine continues to drag its feet on fully supporting the Federal Aviation Adminstration’s move to integrate unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace by 2015.

California has two teams vying for one of six FAA test and research site designations to begin the effort – one in Inyokern and one in Ventura County.

Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R – Camarillo) touched on the potential for unmanned systems during an Assembly committee meeting in Sacramento on Tuesday.

“The future of transportation is in unmanned systems, whether it is UAVs or Google’s smart cars,” Gorell said. “My hope was to bring as many jobs to California as possible.”

While other states are throwing financial capital behind its own teams, California’s two competing teams have garnered only political and local support.

One of the issues holding things up revolves around concerns for privacy and surveillance, something that Gorell said needs a balance. However, he added that most commercial applications resided outside of surveillance of people, aside from law enforcement and search-and-rescue purposes.

“If they do have surveillance applications, it has to do with monitoring for forest fires, for agricultural use, watching traffic and monitoring weather formations like hurricanes,” Gorell said.

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