The Future of Urban Planning: Zoning for Drones

Efforts to regulate the use of drones within the United States have consisted entirely of banning their use, rather than taking advantage of their utility. Yet an alternative approach does exist, relying on municipal zoning ordinances.

1 minute read

August 25, 2014, 7:00 AM PDT

By msutikas


Delivery Drone

Slavoljub Pantelic / Shutterstock

Efforts to regulate the use of drones within the United States have consisted entirely of banning their use, rather than taking advantage of their utility. Yet looking at historical precedent, alternatives are easily discovered.

When automobiles first became commonplace, it took a few years for regulations to catch up to ensure the safety the public, drivers, manufacturers, and the natural environment. It remains a work in progress.  Fortunately at no point did a government completely ban the use of automobiles, as over time the technology advanced parallel to the growth of traffic laws and - though not perfect - a highly effective transportation system developed throughout the world.  

Unfortunately, the same attitude as not been taken regarding unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS).  Although it is unclear what government institution has the right to regulate their use, countless cities and national governments have outright banned the use of a technology in its infancy.  Yet a better strategy exists, by developing zoning laws for airspace, that vary according to the interests of the local community and the broader public good.

Friday, August 22, 2014 in Popular Science

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