3D Robotics

3689527377?profile=originalThe Texas Legislature has passed a drone bill, which only requires the Governor's signature to become law.

Description, from The Verge:

The Texas Privacy Act makes it a misdemeanor the use aerial drones to film any person or private property "with the intent to conduct surveillance," but it also carves out a whopping 40 exemptions. According to the bill's text, law enforcement officers will have wide authority to use surveillance drones both with and without a warrant, in order to investigate crime scenes or pursue individuals when police have "reasonable suspicion" that they have committed a crime — among a host of other circumstances. The bill also has broad exemptions for oil and electrical companies, real estate agents using drones for "marketing purposes," educational institutions, and areas within 25 miles of the Mexican border.

Read morehere

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  • There have been some good observations here about the criminal portion of this law. I do think it's questionable if the "drone police" will show up at your home to arrest you for flying as a hobby. However, I see something much more concerning in this law and that is the civil portion. This really opens a door for your neighbor, someone who lives next to public property where you fly, or even next to your field where you fly to decide you have taken pictures without their permission. It will be up to you to prove that you did not or that you destroyed the pictures. All they will need is to have a picture/video of your aircraft flying close by and that will be enough for them to bring a civil suit against you. It will then be your responsibiilty to prove you were not over their property, that you weren't conducting surveillance, that you destroyed the pictures, etc. You may be able to win the suit but it's not going to be cheap to defend yourself. Remember, in civil court, there does not have to be a proven criminal action for the plaintiff to prevail.
  • Moderator

    Good question Gary... they define "image" as "any capturing of sound waves, thermal, infrared, ultraviolet, visible light, or other electromagnetic waves, odor, or other conditions..."  So I'd say that nixes any plans to spy on the gamma rays being emitted from the neighbor's garage!

  • Moderator

    Its interesting that in Europe they added surveillance by electronic means so that catches listening devices of any sort as well. Was that included anywhere in here or is it just images? 

  • Moderator

    The article referenced in this post is pretty bogus in a lot of ways.  I've put my summary of the the Texas bill here.  I intend to do the same for the California bill but it is so godawfully written it's going to take a while I think.


  • "with the intent to conduct surveillance,"

    Flying a drone with a camera for amateur hobby is not intent to conduct surveillance, if images i captured ever bothered the property owners  I would happily destroy them.

    End my opinion of big brother, he can't secure our border and evict the 40,000,000 illegal immigrant living in our country but big brother is going to chase down people with multi rotors

    I am pissing in my boots I tell YA !


  • Moderator

    @DocWelch, I think it would require that you were able to convince the judge or jury that you were a bona fide manufacturer.  I would take that to mean you had customers, advertisements, a revenue stream, etc.  And that you weren't doing your flight testing over your neighbor's swimming pool. :-)

  • Did anyone notice the non applicability section of the bill? Specifically, it exempts manufacturers if they are developing, testing, or researching. So, if I buy components and assemble a drone of my own design and then offer it for sale, does this make me a manufacturer and exempt me from the law as long as I am testing? I have posed this question to my congressman (one of the many coauthors of the bill) and am waiting for a response. Any thoughts on this?
  • Moderator

    @Gary, I've talked to the office of one of the Texas legislators, and it is no way their intention to restrict stories such as the river of blood.  Section 10 specifically covers "at the scene of a spill, or suspected spill, of hazardous waste."

    Personally, I think this is a great example of how the "telephone game" of reporters writing stories based on stories tend to obscure what is really happening.

    If you are flying over public property or over private property with the permission of the owner you are 100% covered in the exemptions.

  • Moderator

    This story started in 2007, it could have been contained back then. But instead of coming together with one voice folks shouted about rights and if they think they can stop me they have another thing coming.

    Meanwhile in the old world the UK CAA, like the FAA sent a message out to all interested parties that said what would be a sensible starting point for commercial operations.

    Many folks replied and a system was born, not perfect , not finished but happening and working. There are 130 licenced operators in the UK and private RCAP is allowed and ring fenced. Rules are evolving and a few lucky fish are even allowed to fly BLOS now. Lucky in the sense that they have put the work in to get themselves appropriately qualified.

    The UK is not alone in having common sense, Australia, Canada, Italy, Sweden all have simple stuff and are gathering data for extended ops in the future.

    The RCAP community in the USA did not get behind any plan and the AMA scrambled to save model jets and gliding competitions. 

    The AMA is not at the table during ARC 2.0 the thing sealing your fate. Aerovironment and other defense contractors are.

    Throughout all of this the FAA has maintained along with your mainstream media that the USA leads the world in UA development.

    Get behind RCAPA or start something else that gets traction or just expect restrictive environments.

    Can you tell I am a touch sensitive about this one, a few folks have blamed sUAS News for the Texas restrictions because of the river of blood story. I would rather see it as a positive use of UA.

  • It's really something in-between.  The DEA absolutely CAN come into a state that allows medical marijuana use and arrest all those cancer patients.   But in 2009 the Justice Department issued a statement that they wouldn't be investigating or prosecuting those who were clearly abiding by their state's laws on that particular subject.  Those cancer patients are still breaking a federal law and have absolutely no legal protection from the federal law if the DEA changes their minds.  

    I was just wondering if this will be a similar situation where the FAA may choose NOT to enforce restrictions that they have every legal right to enforce if they want to, because they want to respect the state's laws on the matter and see how they play out.

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