Quoted: Cuddlier, useful drones — has ‘debate’ shifted?

“What’s happened when I go out and talk to the public, instead of getting a question about privacy or killer drones, I get the, ‘When is the package coming? When is Amazon going to deliver my package?’ So, the debate really has shifted significantly.”

Larry Brinker, executive director of the NUAIR Alliance, a coalition of private companies and universities that’s leading the effort to expand the Unmanned Aircraft Systems industry in central New York.

Case for that shift in the “debate”: Talk about logistics and rules and potential conveniences drones may bring is on the rise. As my colleague Matt O’Brien wrote recently, companies such as Google, Amazon and consumer drone maker 3D Robotics are on a task force that’s helping the FAA draft rules about registering drones with the government.

Or maybe the shift is in the eye of the beholder. There continue to be concerns about surveillance and drones that kill. As the Atlantic notes, the effort to create sort of a Silicon Valley for drones (but in New York) “makes some uneasy in this liberal area of a liberal state,” as the normalization of drones — including making money from them — marches on and people forget or overlook their dangers.

“I think it’s very unfortunate that people’s jobs are tied in with assassination and surveillance,” Ed Kinane, an activist with the Upstate Drone Action Coalition, told the Atlantic.

And some California bills have tried to address drone safety and privacy issues, although they were recently vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown.


Photo: A Parrot A.R. Drone in 2010. (Paul Sakuma/Associated Press)


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