Drone U. Releases US Drone Census

The Drone Census map from Drone University.
By Jill Replogle
September 19, 2013

Drone University — a project of the New America Foundation — has created a map of drone users, researchers and lobbying groups driving the future of unmanned aerial vehicles in the United States.

You can filter the map by the type of stakeholder and zoom in on your neck of the woods.

In the Southwest, the biggest concentration of drone stakeholders is (not surprisingly) around San Diego. As we’ve reported, San Diego is home to General Atomics, the main supplier of Customs and Border Protection’s fleet of drones.

General Atomics also sells Predator drones to the U.S. military to carry out strikes against suspected terrorists in Pakistan and Yemen.

The Senate immigration reform bill, passed in June, calls for more drones patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border.

Southern California is also home to many major drone supporters in Congress, including Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-San Diego) and Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Rancho Cucamonga), co-chair of the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus.

The caucus — which lobbies for increased support for drones at the federal level — has a strong presence throughout the Southwest.

The New America Foundation drone map also shows all the institutions that have applied for or received permission to fly drones under a provisional program run by the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA is set to open up the skies to more drones in the near future.

The map also shows drone legislation proposed and enacted in different states. Arizona was looking at a bill in February that would have regulated how individuals and law enforcement agencies could use drones in the state. The bill was held in committee.

While the prospect of drones flying free over U.S. skies provokes intense debates over privacy and civil liberties, promoters of domestic drones say they’ll revolutionize our lives.