GAO: Regs needed for unmanned aerial systems

The number of Unmanned Aerial Systems being built for civilian uses ? including those for law enforcement, firefighting and science ? is expected to quadruple between 2012 and 2017 assuming relevant federal regulations are completed before then, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office.

From 40 civilian unmanned systems to be built in 2012, industry sources estimate that number will increase to more than 160 such systems annually by 2017, the report said.

In addition to military uses, the federal government uses unmanned aerial systems for scientific and weather data and border protection. During the coming years, their uses are predicted to expand to law enforcement, firefighting and post-disaster communications.

"The military's use of unmanned aerial systems has raised the visibility of the possible benefits of using UASs in non-military applications," the GAO said.

Advances in computer technology, software development, lightweight materials, global navigation, advanced data links, sophisticated sensors and component miniaturization also contribute to the heightened interest in employing such systems in civilian roles, the GAO states.

The Federal Aviation Administration currently authorizes use of unmanned aerial systems on a case-by-case basis. The FAA is working with the Defense Department to develop airspace safety regulations that would allow the systems to get more use.

The GAO report suggests that Congress create an entity in the FAA to coordinate plans for developing unmanned systems. It also advises the Homeland Security Department to assess the security implications of routine operation of unmanned aerial vehicles.

The operation, maintenance and integration of unmanned aerial systems with other systems are active areas for federal contractors.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

Reader Comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

What is your e-mail address?

My e-mail address is:

Do you have a password?

Forgot your password? Click here
close

Trending

  • Dive into our Contract Award database

    In an exclusive for WT Insider members, we are collecting all of the contract awards we cover into a database that you can sort by contractor, agency, value and other parameters. You can also download it into a spreadsheet. Our databases track awards back to 2013. Read More

  • Navigating the trends and issues of 2016 Nick Wakeman

    In our latest WT Insider Report, we pull together our best advice, insights and reporting on the trends and issues that will shape the market in 2016 and beyond. Read More

contracts DB

Washington Technology Daily

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.