TMZ: Drones are awesome, but we're not getting one (yet)

From Gawker:

TMZ today responded to a widely circulated report recently published in the San Francisco Chronicle claiming the gossip site was among the myriad public and private entities flooding the Federal Aviation Administration with applications for their own private drones.

"TMZ is NOT getting in the DRONE business," the website exclaimed in its statement. "We don't have a drone; we don't want a drone; we never applied for a drone; despite a bogus report to the contrary."

According to the Chronicle story, which was linked to earlier today by Drudge, a rush by the government to allow domestic use of drones has resulted in the FAA being inundated with applications "from police departments, universities, private corporations and even the celebrity gossip site TMZ."

"Truth is," TMZ says, "while drones are, in fact, awesome, it just ain't true."

Views: 1546

Comment by Jesse on November 27, 2012 at 9:47pm

Drone gossip.... now you know they've gone mainstream!

3D Robotics
Comment by Chris Anderson on November 27, 2012 at 10:21pm

Meanwhile, NPR really does want to get a drone (good luck with that whole "non-commerical" thing)

Comment by Gary Mortimer on November 28, 2012 at 1:54am

AP ran that earlier this month to me something smells about the TMZ story. It popped up just as the FAA is having to justify it's role in defending peoples privacy, something that's not in its remit. Reminds me of the jet bought for a chap by the FBI to fly into a building just before HR 658 happened. Maybe its just me!

Privacy is a real crock. Hundreds of people here know having taken their own aerial photos that its not easy. A cop with a weeks training is not going to be able to launch a UA and create evidence ready images under pressure. Perhaps the reason no European police force has continued to use sUAS after testing. (I stand to be corrected) Yes for post crash photos and fire work but not chasing baddies in real time.

Oh dear I'm on my soap box again.

The elephant in the room is the delay to the FAA test sites, they are needed in order for the FAA to iron out wrinkles before the much touted 2015 deadline. (wrinkles that Europe,Australia etc etc can't find)  It seems that privacy has put the process on hold and that might push things out even more. The USAF 2047 roadmap just looks more and more likely. 

Actually the 1970's and CB radio is what's happening.

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on November 28, 2012 at 7:51am

Gary, your analysis is spot-on.

So the FAA's mandate now is to enforce privacy?  Ridiculous.

Comment by Rory Paul on November 28, 2012 at 8:12am

What the FAA teaming up with the ACLU...another day when I could slit my wrists through frustration..

Comment by Geoffrey L. Barrows on November 28, 2012 at 9:26am

A little off topic, but this whole "privacy thing" has my potential investors worried. You see, I just invented a device that you can hold in your hand and point at someone or something very very far away. You look into it and the person appears much closer, maybe even 100x as close. The device is also so energy efficient it runs for 100 years on a single AAA battery. I was thinking of putting it into production and maybe selling it to police forces for $100,000 apiece. We can make a special MIL-SPEC version with a camo color scheme (ITAR, of course) and sell it to the military for $250,000 apiece. But do you think the ACLU would try to block us from doing this? My investors are scared about that and this is the last think keeping the deal from going forward.

Comment by Rob_Lefebvre on November 28, 2012 at 11:54am

Geoffrey, your device sounds very interesting.  I bet you if it's man-portable, and you were trying to avoid detection while performing surveillance, you could make use of existing flora to hide your location.  Perhaps even wearing clothing of a colour which matches the existing plant life.

Now, does your device provide magnification for only one eye at a time, or both eyes simultaneously?

I can see why your investors would be concerned.  I'm sure once the ACLU hears that you might be able to watch somebody from 1 mile away, they will be very concerned and might try to block sales of your device.

Now, I'd like to talk to you in private, as I have this idea about a support stand for these devices. Something that would hold them at comfortable eye level, and steady the device.  

Comment by John Wiseman on November 28, 2012 at 12:18pm

Gary, I'm not sure why you think drones aren't being used or able to be used by police.  Even local police in the U.S. have been using drones for surveillance for a while.  For example, from

Local police say they have used two unarmed Predators based at Grand Forks Air Force Base to fly at least two dozen surveillance flights since June. The FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration have used Predators for other domestic investigations, officials said.

"We don't use [drones] on every call out," said Bill Macki, head of the police SWAT team in Grand Forks. "If we have something in town like an apartment complex, we don't call them."

The drones belong to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which operates eight Predators on the country's northern and southwestern borders to search for illegal immigrants and smugglers. The previously unreported use of its drones to assist local, state and federal law enforcement has occurred without any public acknowledgment or debate.

Comment by Rory Paul on November 28, 2012 at 12:30pm


There are approximately 12000 police departments in the US. If there are more than 50 using unmanned aerial systems I would be surprised.

Comment by Gary Mortimer on November 28, 2012 at 12:35pm

That's big one's John and it could be argued they operated outside of their COA on the farm flight. The border patrol flights have some strict rules. 

The small ones have been tried and failed in Europe.this is one example of a handful

Agencies buying time from persistent platforms will probably become the standard. Orbits set up just like in Afghanistan. 

Lets see what happens over time with the law enforcement use of sUAS, I personally remain to be convinced. Perhaps in 10 years time, but at the rate you guys are travelling you won't have regs by then anyway. Not to worry the rest of the world will have done the R&D for you.

@KernalPanic, I am lucky I fly in countries that have clear cut rules so can fly for fun or commercially and not operate in a grey area. I am just not liking what I am seeing happening over there, its just plain silly. 



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