Opening of American skies to drones topic at Rice’s Baker Institute March 25

John Villasenor, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and professor of electrical engineering and public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, will discuss the future use of domestic unmanned aircraft, so-called drones, in the United States at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy March 25.

In 2012, President Barack Obama signed into law an aviation bill that will open American skies to drones over the next several years.

This Baker Institute Technology, Society and Public Policy lecture is open to the public and will be from 4 to 6 p.m. in Baker Hall’s Kelly International Conference Facility. It is co-sponsored by the institute’s Center for Energy Studies and Rice’s Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology and Fondren Library.

Chris Bronk, fellow in information technology at the Baker Institute and director of the Center for Energy Studies’ Program on Energy and Security, will present introductory remarks.

In 2012, President Barack Obama signed into law an aviation bill that will open American skies to drones over the next several years. Domestic unmanned aircraft have many uses that benefit society, including search and rescue, surveying, scientific research and wildfire detection and monitoring. However, they also raise a host of complex policy issues, according to event organizers.

In an interactive presentation, Villasenor will give an overview of unmanned aircraft technology and the current regulatory environment. He will also discuss some of the fundamental questions raised by the domestic use of drones, such as: What legal framework will protect the privacy of citizens when unmanned aircraft capture images from overhead? At what altitude does a property owner’s control over the airspace end and the government’s control start? What regulatory and technology solutions can ensure that manned and unmanned aircraft safely share the airspace?

A live webcast will be available at http://bakerinstitute.org/webcasts.

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