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GAO Updates Govt Progress on Civilian Drone Integration

The Government Accountability Office has updated a report issued in 2008 on use of drones in civilian airspace, finding agencies have made progress in integrating the unmanned systems but still need to address several issues on safety and national security.

In its summary of the 49-page report, GAO said work still needs to be done including development of sense-and-avoid technology, addressing vulnerabilities in command and control and forming regulations to safely integrate drones into the national airspace system.

Drones are authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration for law enforcement, forest fire monitoring, border security, weather research and scientific data collection on an individual case-by-case basis.

Auditors included in the updated report results from a recent Monmouth University survey on public opinion regarding how drones could be used for civilian missions (click here for TheNewNewInternet’s coverage on those findings).

Specifically, GAO cited interference in GPS signals as one obstacle to integrating drones into civilian airspace as the signals are unencrypted.

For the FAA’s part, auditors recommended increased monitoring of progress in preparing the airspace system to handle drones, adding it can help the FAA understand what has been achieved and what remains to be done.

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