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Drone on White House lawn leads to lockdown

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A small drone landed on White House grounds late Sunday night, leading to emergency vehicles swarming the area, and the perimeter being placed on lockdown until 5:00 a.m., according to the AP. A White House spokesperson told the New York Times he did not have details about the size or make of the drone, but that the Secret Service is investigating.

The White House episode is the latest mishap involving drones, which are becoming ever more popular with average consumers. Other such mishaps include an arrest at the U.S. Open, and a ban on the devices at National Parks where tourists have harassed wildlife and crashed a device into a famous hot spring.

While Sunday’s incident posed no danger to the president, who is in India, it will provide more grist for the debate over how to regulate the ongoing proliferation of small camera-equipped unmanned aircraft.

As it stands, the FAA has been coming down hard on anyone who uses a drone for commercial purposes, such as real estate photography, but has largely left it up to local authorities to police amateur drone enthusiasts.

The result, according to Wall Street Journal columnist Gordon Crovitz, is that “We now have the worst of both worlds: Hobbyists are not effectively regulated, creating potential safety issues, while commercial development is criminalized.”

While the federal agency was supposed to have new rules for drones in place by last year, it has repeatedly missed deadlines, and now reports suggest the rules may not be ready until 2017.

As I’ve argued in the past, the U.S. should take a page from countries like France and Canada, which have developed permitting systems to encourage commercial uses, and which are considering certification processes to ensure hobbyists use the devices safely.

2 Responses to “Drone on White House lawn leads to lockdown”

  1. quiviran

    If the drone was under the control of an operator, how do you define it as a mishap? It was a deliberate act, as were all of your so-called mishaps. The question is, was the operator just a fool or engaged in malicious activity? It should be pretty clear that flying a remotely piloted vehicle over the White House would be illegal if flying a piloted one is.

    “As I’ve argued in the past, the U.S. should take a page from countries like France and Canada,” You are a pretentious twit and should surrender your keyboard immediately. Leave national policy to adults. Oh, damn. That means Congress. Nevermind.

    • Anonymous

      “I’m just going to crash my $2,400 drone into a hot spring because.. why not?”
      I’ve seen a number of hobbyists lose control of their flight and crash or near-crash. A lot of bad pilots panic when they lose control and inevitable crash. This happens a lot for people newer to the hobby with less experience flying as they build up experience.

      Don’t assume that just because the pilot was flying the drone that they are always in control.