Obama calls for regs on drones

Obama calls for regs on drones

President Obama on Tuesday said the U.S. needs to create a “regulatory structure” for the domestic use of drones — one day after a small, unmanned quad copter was discovered on the South Lawn of the White House.

“There are incredibly useful functions that these drones can play in terms of farmers who are managing crops and conservationists who want to take stock of wildlife,” Obama told CNN.

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He noted that companies like Amazon are experimenting with using drones to deliver packages.

“But we don't really have any kind of regulatory structure at all for it,” he added.

The president said he had asked the federal government to work with outside groups to create a regulatory framework. He said the framework should preserve privacy and safety while allowing for innovation, and likened the effort to the early days of the Internet.

“These technologies that we're developing have the capacity to empower individuals in ways that we couldn't even imagine 10 to 15 years ago,” Obama said.

The president’s call for additional regulations echoed a statement issued by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) after the drone crash on the White House lawn on Monday.

“With the discovery of an unauthorized drone on the White House lawn, the eagle has crash-landed in Washington; there is no stronger sign that clear FAA guidelines for drones are needed,” Schumer said in a statement.

“Drones are an important new technology that will boost businesses, aid in storm preparedness and recovery, assist agricultural development and more, but rules to protect the safety and privacy of the American people must keep pace, and I am calling on the FAA and OMB to get these long-delayed regulations on the books,” Schumer continued. 

The Secret Service said Tuesday that a government employee had called the agency Monday morning to admit he was the one who had been flying the approximately two-foot drone that crashed on the southeast side of the White House complex. The crash caused a lockdown of the White House and raised new questions about the threat to the executive mansion from similar devices that could be holding explosives.

Obama said the drone that crashed at his home was something “you buy in Radio Shack” but deferred questions about White House security to the Secret Service.

“This is a broader problem. I’ll leave the Secret Service to talk about this particular event,” Obama said.