techdirt.com As you may have heard, Boulder, Colorado has been hit by massive flooding over the past week, and it's been something of a mess. A local company, Falcon UAV, makers of special drones which are built for the government, approved by the FAA, and specialize in using GPS and cameras to generate highly accurate maps, started helping to map the damage with those drones. It was basically making very useful, near real-time maps showing the floods. You'd think that would be useful to, say, FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency in charge of helping to coordinate the response to the floods. Instead, FEMA ordered the drones grounded or it would have people from Falcon UAV arrested. Once again, this isn't just some guy with a toy quadcopter trying to take photos. These are drones designed for this sort of thing. As the company explains, this grounding made little sense, and possibly held back relief efforts.
Early Saturday morning Falcon UAV was heading up to Lyons to complete a damage assessment mapping flight when we received a call from our Boulder EOC point of contact who notified us that FEMA had taken over operations and our request to fly drones was not only denied but more specifically we were told by FEMA that anyone flying drones would be arrested.
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