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Does Jacksonville have a drone filled future?

3:20 PM, Dec 17, 2013   |    comments
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Image provided by Amazon.com shows the Prime Air unmanned aircraft Amazon is working on in its research and development labs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The JAX Chamber hosted a public forum to discuss drones Tuesday.

Business leaders from around the First Coast attended the event discussing integrating 'unmanned systems' or drones into Jacksonville routine day operations and nationwide.

Unmanned systems can be used for natural disaster assessments, surveying nuclear sites without risk,  and even search and rescue missions.

"Jacksonville is an urban city but it's got a lot of rural areas around it; things like meth labs and grow houses, things like that happen more in the rural areas and it's easy for a bad person to see if the police are coming and spotting them. it's not as easy for them to see when the police get a warrant, they fly this over the area and know exactly what's going on," said Derek Lyons, Prioria Robotics.

Colleges and universities have been preparing their engineers for a drone filed future.

"We have fixed-wing aircraft, we have rotary-wind aircraft, we have ground vehicles, we have boats, we have submarines, we have to cover all the domains exploring what you can do with unmanned systems," said Patrick Currier, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

At Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona students in mechanical engineering are learning to engineer these systems properly to one day implement them safely.

"We're getting to the point now where you can build drone aircraft cheap enough to actually use for applications like agriculture, for applications like wildlife monitoring," said Currier.

The FAA has agreed to integrate the use of these systems into a safe routine and increase access to airspace over the next five to ten years. 

Amazon recently announced it plans to have drones deliver packages to customer's door steps, but before you start getting airmail, the FAA says operators will have to meet requirements to gain access to the airspace.

First Coast News

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