Policing. Privacy. Constitutional Dilemmas. Supreme Court? Probably.
Police aerial surveillance is naturally restrained by the costs associated with manned air flights. UAV technology dramatically reduces the costs of aerial surveillance but also has the potential to save substantial sums of money as it will, most likely, replace patrol units.
We are facing a ground swell of drone purchasing and deployment by police departments across the country. The UAV industry is expected to be in the multiples of billions in a few years. The only thing holding the tide is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which has an informal-ish hold on its use across the country.
One of the biggest concerns regarding aerial surveillance is privacy and the potential to become more of a "persistent surveillance" society, where each person has the virtual equivalent of a police officer that follows them everywhere they go and watches everything they do. Again, this includes more than drones but drone technology opens the door to multiple forms of surveillance from many different types of automated robotic tools.
At the moment the FAA has become the arbitrator of privacy issues, as well. The U.S. House Appropriations Committee issued a report on its transportation appropriations bill (HR 2610) for the 2014 fiscal year that includes a measure directing the FAA “to collaborate with other Federal agencies in evaluating the impact that broader use of UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems - so many acronyms!) in the national airspace could have on individual privacy. "
Without effective policy we are facing another form of policy making by procurement instead of by legislation. In the same way that there is a potential for automated warfare there is a potential for automated law enforcement. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a trade association, argues that policy decisions regarding UAVs should be “technology neutral”. In that, legislating towards one technology will only create future legal ambiguities as new technologies are developed.
The Challenge: How Much Should You Tip a Drone for Delivering Your Pizza?
The incredible use of this technology cannot be overstated. Robotic technologies are mapping parts of the earth that humans simply cannot explore without aide. Emergency personnel can (and do) use the existing technology for search and rescue. Automated transportation? You think cruise control is awesome. How about Knight Rider? And, Yes, Dominos, is literally testing drone delivery of pizza.
The challenge is how to allow these technologies to flourish for world wide use without finding ourselves in a position where domestic freedom and wartime behavior are misaligned by misappropriated technology.
These are some of the topics that will be discussed during the panel. Opinions will vary and discussions will be insightful and challenging.
Panel Bios on the Next Page