UAS operation in the homeland

“According to a recent national poll conducted by Monmouth University in New Jersey, nearly two-thirds of Americans support the use of unmanned aircraft [systems] (UAS) to protect the U.S. borders and control illegal immigration. Eighty percent of Americans support the use of unmanned aircraft to help in search and rescue missions.”

The above is included in Michael Toscano’s prepared testimony for the House Committee on Homeland Security hearing set for July 19, 2012. Toscano is the president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

The same Monmouth University poll also states, but omitted from Toscano’s testimony, “only 23% support using drones for this [issuing speeding ticket] routine police activity while a large majority of 67% oppose the idea.”

When asked about privacy concerns if law enforcement mounted high tech cameras on drones, poll respondents who were very concerned (42%) or somewhat concerned (22%) far outnumber those concerned little (16%) or not concerned (15%).

Interestingly, Toscano’s testimony spotlights the Arlington (Texas) Police Department use of a trunk-based UAS that allows for surveying multi-car crashes on interstate highways. “The UAS allow the crash scenes to clear more quickly, reduce pollution and keep officers safe by reducing the amount of time they spend roadside.”

So, the very thing (routine police activity) poll respondents didn’t favor is what Toscano highlights in his testimony. Stay tuned.

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