Last year we reported on how an outdated law prohibits drone flying in New York City. Today, the Wall Street Journal writes about how drone “technology’s hand is being tied behind its back” by this decade-old law. While other cities such as Los Angeles and Chicago are embracing drone technology, New York City is falling further behind. For instance, the use of drones could save tremendous amounts of time during the five-year inspections of building facades that are currently done manually. Not having to set up scaffolding around New York high-rises also eliminates the risks involved when people have to ascend these structures to perform the mandatory inspections. Drones from companies such as Automodaility and PrecisionHawk could do that work faster, safer, and more cheaply. The article also points out the safety concerns that industry insiders have for New York’s residents and the general public. See below for some quotes and highlights from this Wall Street Journal article [paywall].

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Decades-old law stops drone technology from being used in NYC

Tess Riski writes for the WSJ:

Real-estate developers in Los Angeles and Chicago are embracing drone technology to help speed up the building process and reduce costs. But in New York City, a 71-year-old local statute is keeping drones grounded.

The 1948 law requires that all aircraft take off and land in a location designated for flight by the Port Authority — namely airports. This effectively prohibits drones from flying within city boundaries…

Two New York City Council members, Justin Brannan and Paul Vallone, proposed legislation last year that would allow for legal drone use, though the bills have been stuck in committee for 18 months.

“The technology’s hand is being tied behind its back because of these laws,” Mr. Brannan said.

An NYPD spokeswoman said if the city were to legalize drone use, the legislation would need to prioritize safety, especially considering the city’s dense population and threats of terrorism.

Ms. Cooper said PrecisionHawk — which conducts aerial mapping, 3D modeling, and building inspections across the country — would operate in New York City if the law allowed it.

You can read the entire article here. What do you think about the commercial use of drones in New York City? Let us know in the comments below.

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Photo: Jeff Lautenberger for the Wall Street Journal


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