Braintree company and authorities monitor drone market

March 26, 2016
by Noah Jones,

MANSFIELD — Ohio is embracing aviation technology in the form of public safety, even as federal law struggles with the increased technological advancements and their impact in our communities.Ryan Anschutz, a drone expert at HYSight Technologies, a local company specializing in the sale and service of unmanned aircraft vehicles, said the state is leading the charge for pairing drone regulations with state law and increase public safety.

“Ohio is on the forefront of this technology and an embracer of this technology. (Ohio’s state government) wants Ohio to be the hotbed for unmanned aircraft systems development and promotion,” Anschutz said. “The department of Ohio/Indiana Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center came up with guidelines to follow. That’s been really great for people.”The Federal Aviation Administration has set its own guidelines intended to keep the public safe while using drones: drones should not be flown more than 400 feet high, and flight over populated areas is not recommended. The guidelines also suggest drones be flown in view of the controller. The FAA does require users to register their drones.“The FAA really wants to preserve life, they don't want anyone to get hurt because (drones) are so popular. There are so many out there. Millions of them were sold for Christmas. They are relatively cheap and they are a lot of fun,” Anschutz said.

A quick search on shows drones range from $16 to $999. However, any rules of operation for drones are more suggestive than laws, he said.David Gallagher, chief of staff at the Ohio/Indiana UAS Center, a department of the Ohio Department of Transportation, said the use of drones can benefit the public by monitoring bridges, roads and waterways.“We are doing everything we can to help. This is all stuff for the good of people; I think people understand that,” Gallagher said. “For example, there are 40,000 bridges in Ohio. We use drones’ technology to improve infrastructure (of the bridges) not to interrogate (citizens).”The Ohio/Indiana UAS Center has ties with many of Ohio’s microcosms, he said. Mining, fracking, wind farms, oil pipelines and agriculture — Ohio’s No. 1 industry — have all used drones with help from the UAS center, Gallagher said.“Farmers can use the drone’s sensors and cameras to see where they need to put more nitrogen (into the ground) and help crops,” he said. "Thermal cameras can help make sure coils are not overheating at power plants. Every week we have small municipalities calling us to use our technology to fly a drone to see where erosions may be.” Because drones have a weight limit, Anschutz believes using drones as a delivery system push corporate packaging in a positive photoAnschutz said drones could be beneficial to search and rescue missions and are a more environmentally conscious tool. Instead of using gasoline, drones use batteries. He said for commercial use, drones could be the best delivery system available because drones have a weight limit, prohibiting excess amounts of packaging.

Because the FAA defines UAVs as aircrafts, there are limitations where drone users may use drones. Temporary flight restricted areas and geofences, a virtual barrier, are installed around airports and prisons.The FAA is likely to come out with rules for drone use this summer, Anschutz said. The FAA is also working on less strict guidelines for commercially used drones because they see a positive impact the drones can play on the economy.Because of the current FAA guidelines' limits however,

Mansfield Law Director, John Spon said the city has no plans to use drones at this time.“Our office (law department) and (Mansfield Police) Chief (Kenneth) Coontz are continuously evaluating the most sophisticated high-tech products by which we can fight crime — one of those means is the recent development of drones,” Spon said.However, he noted that because laws applicable to drones and the types of drones are evolving, use by law enforcement involves complex issues which could be solved once various laws and guidelines surround the drones are finalized.Spon also acknowledged cost plays a role in the decision to not yet use drones, but he said as more drone manufacturing companies enter the market, he expects costs to fall. When that happens, MPD could reevaluate the use of drones in the department.

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