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L.A. drone grounded, disciplinary action possible

Evan Blass
06.22.06
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The folks who keep planes from crashing into one another over at the FAA were none too pleased to read about that little UAV demo conducted by the L.A. County Sheriff's Department this weekend, with the agency telling Sheriff Lee Baca and company to keep their drone grounded pending the result of an investigation. What's more, the department could actually face disciplinary action for the SkySeer's inaugural flight -- FAA spokesperson Laura Brown commented that although the agency wasn't "peeved," they were "definitely surprised" that authorization had not been requested for the trial. Commander Sid Heal, point man for this program tasked with spying on Angelinos locating criminal suspects, lost hikers, and missing children, countered by arguing that since private citizens can fly model planes without FAA clearance, it's puzzling that providers of a so-called public service would be required to do so. While this temporary delay will probably come as a relief to Big Brother-fearing privacy advocates, it still seems pretty inevitable that one day thousands of these drones will be patrolling every major city in America, along with millions of other walking, crawling, rolling, swimming, and hovering robots keeping an eye on every square inch of public space.

[Thanks, Joel J.]

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