What restrictions are in place to protect citizens' civil liberties and privacy concerns related to unmanned aircraft systems?

The Department of the Interior (DOI)--which includes the USGS--has taken the following actions related to privacy:

  • Operating UAS primarily over DOI lands.

  • Obtaining written permission from land owners when UAS operations need to launch and/or land on their property.

  • Following standard FAA and DOI approved procedures for aircraft operations (including special use permits, landowner approval letters, and developing safety cases). Must obtain a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) from the FAA prior to conducting any flight operations outside of restricted airspace.

  • Maintaining open and transparent UAS operations: UAS mission schedules are listed on the USGS UAS Project Office website, and local press and landowners are invited to observe the operations.

  • Public hearings are held if required by the managing agency or local governing officials

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Image: Unmanned Aircraft System
March 21, 2016

Florida and North Carolina Unit personnel collaborated on a unique study at Yawkey Wildlife Center in South Carolina using aerial photographs collected by the Florida Unit’s unmanned aircraft system (UAS). L-R: Kelsey Oberneufeman (NC Unit), Adam Watts (FL Unit), Scott Bowman (Univ. of FL), Jaime Collazo (NC Unit), Kyuho Lee (Univ. of FL), Bob Joyner (Yawkey Wildlife Center).