A search involving dogs, a helicopter and hundreds of volunteers came to a happy conclusion after a drone owner lent his gadget to the efforts.
The case for consumer drones got a boost after an amateur pilot ended a search-and-rescue effort last weekend by locating a missing ophthalmologist, who suffers from dementia, in a bean field in Wisconsin.
David Lesh, who normally uses the drone to make videos for his ski and snowboard business in Colorado, says he decided to try and help after learning of the search while visiting his girlfriend.
“I never thought that I would be using it to find somebody,” Lesh told NBC, saying he spotted 82-year-old Guillermo DeVenecia, who was found shoeless but unharmed, in 20 minutes after scoping a 200-acre field from the air.
The help from Lesh and his drone spared volunteers hours of trudging through a muddy field, and ended a three-day effort that had involved search dogs, a helicopter and hundreds of people.
The incident may also put additional pressure on the FAA to review its policy on the use of drones, many of which weigh under five pounds. The aviation regulator has so far taken a hard line on drones, banning their commercial use altogether, and ordering a well-known Texas-based search-and-rescue organization to ground its drones (the Texas group has since defied the order after a recent court ruling).
A significant portion of resistance to personal drone use is based on concerns for dangerous, intrusive or creepy use of the hardware and cameras. Like any reasonable geek, I think there are plenty of laws already on the books dealing with dangerous, intrusive or creepy behavior. No need for additional rules governing utilization of technology.
If behavior is unlawful — use existing law and make an arrest.