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In Alaska, drones take to the skies

By Lauren Maxwell 7:52 PM December 30, 2013

Alaska is one of six states that have been chosen to test the unmanned aircraft

ANCHORAGE - Alaskans looking to the skies may soon see drones overhead, but the unmanned aircraft aren’t the kind most people are probably picturing. These are no military spy planes.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks has been doing research with small, unmanned aircraft for more than a decade, using a built-in camera to track wildlife, monitor wildfires and map out the state’s coastline. But lately, others have been buying the technology as well.

A smaller version of the aircraft has sold out at local hobby stores and online. People buy them as a for fun, but others would like to make money from selling their video. Right now the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t allow most unmanned aircraft to be used for commercial purposes.

It’s a situation that is bound to change as the technology becomes more popular. The FAA is looking to come up with regulations by 2015, and Alaska is one of six state’s chosen by the FAA to test the unmanned aircraft. They hope to develop new rules about who can fly them, where they can go and how they can safely share the skies with manned aircraft.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks will conduct the research. The other states participating include Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia.

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