Recently a few residents from a small town named Deer Trail, Colorado decided to write a proposed city ordinance to purchase "Drone Hunting Licenses" from the town for $25. You can read the specifics of the proposed ordinance below however in a nutshell it would authorize license holders to shoot down drones that resemble a federal drone (i.e. wings, fuselage, propeller) - regardless of the purpose for which it is being used.
Yesterday, 6 August 2013, the ordinance was put to a vote by the town council and it came to a tie which means it will go to a special election for the more than 500 residents of Deer Trail. Falcon UAV was out in Deer Trail yesterday to educate the town council and its residents that their ordinance was misguided, at best, given that the use of drones in the civil market are going to be an enormous help for small communities and small businesses such as those in Deer Trail. For example, Deer Trail is an agriculture and ranching community. Falcon UAV is currently in use in the US for precision agriculture mapping missions allowing farmers to map their crops throughout the growing season. If they spot a problem they can take care of it early and at a local level making their crops more effecient and produce more. Another great example is that the eastern planes of Colorado saw a large storm move through in the last week causing extensive hail damage and high wind damage to a number of farmers crops. Drones such as Falcon UAV could be deployed to accurately map the acreage lost to the storm so that the farmers can receive a fair reimbursement from the insurance companies. As a final example ranchers in the Deer Trail area could be using drones to help with cattle counts during calving season or locating lost cattle with thermal infrared in the winter snow conditions. It is a regular occurence for ranchers to lose a few head of cattle in the winter which costs a rancher thousands of dollars.
The positive uses for unmanned aircraft in the civil market is limitless. There is no question they will create jobs, generate income, and be an enormous benefit to small businesses and small rural towns more than we can imagine. Yes, certain people will use the technology for nefarious purposes but that is no reason to hold the entire technology accountable as the Deer Trail ordinance intends to do if it is voted in.
To put this in perspective for the general public please answer the following questions:
Do you hold the computer or the computer hacker accountable for stealing someone's identity via the internet?
Do you hold the car or the driver accountable for a hit and run?
Then why would you hold the drone accountable for any illegal surveillance rather than the operator?
So to demonstrate the positive uses of unmanned aircraft technology we at Falcon UAV figured that it would be appropriate to use Deer Trail to show how unmanned aircraft may be used to help. Perhaps a small town like Deer Trail would like to get some great HD shots of their iconic water tower! Falcon to the rescue.......
Or maybe they are doing a major expansion to the town from the revenue they are generating from a recent town ordinance. For this major expansion they need to survey the land and to determine the slope of the land to determine water runoff/flood planning as well as determine the area and volume of fill dirt they will need to add or remove for the town projects. To do this they require a high resolution georectified orthophoto and digital elevation model (DEM) which gives accurate GPS positions for every single pixel in the image. Doing this from a manned aircraft using aerial photography or LIDAR is just way too expensive for a town like Deer Trail so perhaps they could use a drone such as Falcon UAV to map the area in a single flight to generate both of these image products!
And in this day and age who doesn't know how to use Google Earth. I mean what if you could overlay the orthophoto and the digital elevation model in Google Earth and provide that information to the whole world so that they can find exactly where Deer Trail Colorado is!