PLEDGE NOW
Private Drones In American Skies

Drones on top of drones. New, commercial drones take off. Some say our skies will be dark with privately-owned drones.

A Parrot AR Drone 2.0 is seen flying during a demonstration at the Consumer Electronics Show, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, in Las Vegas. The drone has a built in camera and can be controlled with a smart phone. (AP)

A Parrot AR Drone 2.0 is seen flying during a demonstration at the Consumer Electronics Show, Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, in Las Vegas. The drone has a built in camera and can be controlled with a smart phone. (AP)

Ok, so the “tacocopter” was a joke.  The drone that would deliver fresh tacos to you from the sky, wherever you stood, whenever you wanted them.  But drones are coming to American life.

The US military has gone wild for drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan.  American police departments are droning up.  But the big buzz now is in private drones.

Drones that can watch and check and grab and monitor.  For farmer’s fields.  Pipeline inspection.  Traffic watch.  Just looking around.  “Our skies will be dark with drones,” they say.

This hour, On Point:  beyond the military, the exploding age of drones.

-Tom Ashbrook

 

Guests

Chris Anderson, CEO of 3DRobotics and creator of DIYDrones.com. Former editor-in-chief of Wired. (@chr1sa)

Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the ACLU. (@jaycstanley)

Tom K. Kenville, chairman of the North Dakota chapter of the trade association, Unmanned Applications Institute, International — a non-profit that supports the development of unmanned aircraft.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Verge “How have things changed so fast? ’10 years ago, drones were military industrial technology, extremely expensive and some of it classified,’ says Anderson. ‘What happened over the last decade is that the revolution in your pocket, has made that technology so cheap, and easy, and ubiquitous that regular people could do it.'”

Reuters “As U.S. authorities grapple with how to regulate the use of unarmed drones in U.S. skies, a small network of police, first responders and experts is already flying unmanned aircraft. These operators say rapidly evolving drone technology is already reshaping disaster response, crime scene reconstruction, crisis management and tactical operations.”

The New York Times “The burst of activity in remotely operated planes stems from the confluence of two factors: electronics and communications gear has become dirt cheap, enabling the conversion of hobbyist radio-controlled planes into sophisticated platforms for surveillance, and the Federal Aviation Administration has been ordered by Congress to work out a way to integrate these aircraft into the national airspace by 2015.”

Videos

The GRASP lab at UPenn has been working with small quadrotor drones, and posting some impressive videos of what they can do.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
May 2, 2016
A man walks on the rail tracks of a train station turned into a makeshift camp crowded by migrants and refugees, at the northern Greek border point of Idomeni, Greece, Friday, April 29, 2016. Many thousands of migrants remain at the Greek border with Macedonia, hoping that the border crossing will reopen, allowing them to move north into central Europe. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

A top former US diplomat says refugees and tribalism are pulling Europe apart and that the US needs to get involved- to help Europe by helping refugees.

May 2, 2016
ADVANCE FOR MONDAY, MAY 2, 2016 AND THEREAFTER - In this April 19, 2016 photo, Laurie Millan, a para-professional and tutor, works with a student during an after school tutoring session at San Francisco International High School, in San Francisco. While some districts in numerous states have discouraged migrant minors from Central America from enrolling in their schools, the school accommodated its youths by rewriting young-adult novels at a basic level to spark the newcomers' interest in reading.  (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Is grit the secret sauce that drives success? More important than both talent and intellect? We’re talking the power and limits of grit.

RECENT
SHOWS
Apr 29, 2016
Screengrab from the #MorethanMean video produced by Sarah Spain and Julie Dicaro. Scroll down to view the video.

Women pushing back. A video by two female sports reporters about online harassment goes viral.

 
Apr 29, 2016
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, joined by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina waves during a rally in Indianapolis, Wednesday, April 27, 2016, when Cruz announced he has tapped Fiorina to serve as his running mate. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Trump and Hillary wins. Bernie lays off. Cruz chooses Carly. Beyonce drops “Lemonade.” Our weekly news roundtable goes beyond the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
‘Embedded’: How Violent Gangs Are Terrorizing El Salvador
Thursday, Apr 14, 2016

NPR’s Kelly McEvers on her reporting in El Salvador for the podcast Embedded, and how gang killings brought San Salvador’s bus service to a halt.

More »
Comment
 
That Cheap Dress On Facebook? It Isn't Worth It
Monday, Apr 11, 2016

Know those shockingly cheap clothes you see advertised on Facebook? There’s a catch.

More »
Comment
 
The Boston Globe Imagines — And Rejects — A President Trump Front Page
Monday, Apr 11, 2016

The Boston Globe editorial page imagines — and rejects — President Donald Trump.

More »
Comment