Hooray! The Federal Aviation Administration has finally released proposed rules for drone use. Seems like everyone now operates one of these flying robots, from Amazon and Domino's Pizza testing speed-delivery drones to those owned by freelance freaks and geeks.
On March 7, the New York Drone Film Festival will launch at the Directors Guild of America Theater. Thirty-five films will be screened. "People have never seen the inside of a volcano before, but drones have gone there," festival founder Randy Scott told the Village Voice. "There are so many ways these technologies can be used for good."
I understand how helpful drones can be to wildlife conservationists and crop-managing farmers. But a downside easily comes to mind, like that drunken enthusiast who recently crashed his drone on the White House lawn -- and the possibility of terrorists doing much worse.
It's easy for any numskull to buy a recreational drone. Call me old-fashioned, but I cannot accept the possibility of a 40-pound drone operated by a reckless nitwit landing on my head as I walk out of Fairway. I feel confident I'm not alone in this. For example, how would you like an errant drone delivering a book, coffeemaker or pizza to crash through your apartment window? Or used by some perv to peep through it?
"We all shudder to think that someone can send a drone peering into the window of our living room or bedroom," Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote to the FAA last week, in an effort to promote "positive and legitimate" drone use.
Until recently, the FAA limited its lame warnings on its website, such as Super Bowl Sunday's "Unmanned aircraft and NFL football don't mix. The Super Bowl is a no-drone zone, so leave your drones at home." Now the FAA is considering limiting drones to flying below 500 feet and keeping them away from major airports. Excellent ideas!
"The FAA's proposed rule on drones makes our airspace significantly safer; however, more must be done to protect the privacy of individuals and help build the commercial potential for this transformative technology," Schumer wrote.
So, drone geeks, keep it below 500 feet -- but not too far below. And don't drink and drone!
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.