House panel takes up rules for drones in NC

Posted January 21, 2014


— State lawmakers on Tuesday began discussing rules for government and commercial use of drone aircraft in North Carolina.

The House Committee on Unmanned Aircraft Systems plans to submit recommendations to the General Assembly this summer.

"We're trying to get in front of this, instead of having to address something either beside it or behind it," said Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, the committee's chairman. "As unmanned systems become a dominant factor in a new economy, we want to make sure that we have laws on the books that protect our citizens, both in their privacy concerns and in their safety concerns."

Lawmakers last year passed a two-year moratorium on use of drones by state or local governments so they could get a handle on security and privacy concerns.

Privacy advocates say drones open the door to unconstitutional surveillance, but backers of the unmanned aircraft say they can be used to survey crop damage, map flood plains and assist in search and rescue missions.

Torbett said any law on drone use would have to be very clear, especially when it comes to safety. Existing laws likely would prohibit people from using drones to spy on their neighbors, but that issue also will have to be reviewed.

Legislation in North Carolina, once approved, could become a model for Federal Aviation Administration guidelines nationwide, he said.

"(The FAA is) not quite as eager to approach (drones) from a commercial viewpoint, such as Amazon delivering packages, but they know it’s inevitable,” he said.

Proponents say North Carolina could become a hub for the unmanned aircraft industry if the state adopts regulations early and doesn't choke off growth with too many rules.

Torbett said North Carolina could become a Detroit-like base for drone production, providing jobs to former military personnel and opportunities for collaboration between commercial firms and the state's military bases.


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  • cwmllc1952 Jan 27, 2014

    Drones will make fine tools for neighbors spying on neighbors and thieves watching to see when you leave your home or business. License for business use. Personal use should not be allowed off ones own property. Drones clearly marked and owners insured and responsible for all damages

  • 68_dodge_polara Jan 23, 2014

    Here is a good article for those who believe it's a good idea for governments to use drones in this country:


  • 68_dodge_polara Jan 23, 2014

    "Should be great for fighting crime."

    But will be used instead to issue traffic tickets as that's where the money is.

  • lprop Jan 22, 2014

    Should be great for fighting crime.

  • Dr Sanchez Jan 22, 2014

    If North Carolina wants to compete they better get on board. Drones have been used for years in other countries to do farm work such as fertilize crops and monitor livestock. Drones with infrared can detect diseases on plants much more accurately than walking and checking plants by hand.

  • 68_dodge_polara Jan 22, 2014

    Municipalities are salivating when they imagine the the revenue stream these things will bring catching speeders as they don't use radar or lasers. They be small and high enough were they won't be easily noticed and simply calculate speed between two spots of many vehicles at the same time. As government is big brother and is making now drawing up these rules welcome to even more Big Brother.

  • bdu4dals2 Jan 22, 2014

    Reckon if I see one while out hunting I may have to get it mounted on my wall. If the Gov boys are searching for something VERY specific, fine, but not to just sort of take a snoop around.

  • jellybiscuit Jan 21, 2014

    It sounds like Mr Torbett hasn't been to Detroit lately.