About two years from now, you may look up and see a flying Domino’s Pizza (NYSE:DMZ) delivery box being ferried overhead to a waiting customer or maybe you’ll see the flashing red and blue lights of the police department's latest drone tracking down a local criminal. Or, if you’re in one of the nine states that have banned drone use, the skies will be clear.
The Federal Aviation Administration will open U.S. airspace to unmanned vehicles by late 2015, and drones are very likely to have a huge impact on American life, in all kinds of uses for business, farming, police enforcement and science.
The $6 billion-a-year industry is lobbying the Federal Aviation Administration to make those rules as loose as possible, but civil liberties groups have raised concerns about privacy and safety once the rules are introduced. The FAA currently issues about 300 drone permits a year for research and police purposes, but it’s believed there could be some 30,000 in the air by 2020, according to the agency.
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The FAA has agreed to take the concerns of advocacy groups into consideration before it launches a six-state program next year. Meanwhile, some states have opted to ban law enforcement use or private citizens' use of drones, with Idaho banning both.