Drones are the next “Cool Thing” — Right?

One million drones were expected to be sold for the 2015 holiday season.  They are a very cool toy.  For real estate folks, they can be used to inspect property, make wonderful marketing videos, oversee construction progress, etc., etc.

Life guards at Seal Beach use them to search for sharks.

Prisoners use them to deliver heroin into prison yards, peeping Tom’s use them, paparazzi use them, hobbyists use them to check out wild fires (and interfere with planes and helicopters dropping retardant), naturalists use them to look at black bears (and stress the bears out), anti-gun folks use them to harass hunters, and police departments use them to watch people (often without warrants).

All kinds of legislation was proposed last year, and only one bill was passed.  The Legislature is at it again this year, with not less than 6 new bills introduced already.

There are challenges to all this.  The FAA wants to control all things relating to drones.  Almost.  Cities want to control many things related to drones too.  But the FAA has said it preempts Cities and States.  (It likely does…)  And the FAA recently imposed “registration” requirements – with penalties of up to $27,000 and 3 years in jail for non-compliance.

Then there are the hobbyists with remote control aircraft.  The FAA regulations already exempt them.  Sort of.  Now the FAA is including RC aircraft in “drone” regulations too.  The modelers cry foul!

Privacy advocates demand warrants be obtained before police can use drones to “spy.”  Cops say drone use is necessary to collect evidence, and that they are free to look in on us, like anyone else (i.e. paparazzi) ….

What does the future hold?

Use for inspections and marketing?  Drone-ports (instead of heli-ports) on rooftops for deliveries?  (A rental opportunity?  Imagine what Amazon would pay for a rooftop in the SF Financial district.)  Geo-fencing, where the drone is pre-programmed not to fly in certain areas?

What about use for news reporters, or movie makers?

Google recently was issued a patent for “provision of emergency medical services.”

Google?  Medical services?  What does that mean?