A policy analyst who's been writing about drones considers a recent presidential memorandum a step in the right direction.
President Trump has given the go-ahead to a test program that will increase government and commercial use of the unmanned aircraft. White House officials say states, local communities, and tribes can devise their own trials, and there is no limit on the number of communities that participate.
"I think that this is a step in the right direction," says Jason Snead, a Heritage Foundation policy analyst. "For several years now, we've had a regulatory approach in the United States that has had the unfortunate consequence of depressing the amount of research and innovation in the drone area that is taking place in the United States and actually pushing a lot of that work abroad."
For example, Amazon is delivering its first packages for Amazon Prime Air in the U.K., and Google is testing its own services in Australia.
"What this presidential memorandum has the potential to be is a genuine opening of the skies to drone innovators and entrepreneurs who will bring the ability or have the ability to bring some of their great ideas to market to benefit consumers," Snead submits.
Still, there are terrorism concerns, as terrorists already make use of trucks and other everyday items, so drones seem to give them another option. But the policy analyst believes those concerns can be addressed while still helping people who want to use drones for good.
"I certainly think that we need to take seriously concerns when someone is talking about a drone being used for some sort of illicit or nefarious action, but what I think that we basically ought to be concerned with is more about making sure that we have a regulatory framework in place that allows for innovation to progress and doesn't kill or stifle an industry because of the potential harms that may ensue, including the use of drones for nefarious purposes," Snead tells OneNewsNow. "Now we want to make sure that law enforcement has the means to undertake what are called counter-UAS operations -- essentially means of interdicting or, if necessary, shooting down drones if they're trying to do something like commit a terrorist attack -- and this memorandum actually sets up the beginnings of a program to begin to develop that technology."
Snead recognizes that every new technology brings the potential for misuse, but he points out that potential for misuse is generally far outweighed by the socially beneficial advantages of innovation.
"And so we need to make sure that our regulatory framework recognizes that," he concludes.