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Mark Udall: Drones Need To Overcome 'Scary' Stigma

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The unmanned aerial vehicle industry need to overcome the vision Americans have of "a sky full of drones watching their every move" and integrate "into the American psyche in a way that isn’t threatening or scary," Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said Wednesday.

Udall, who is preparing legislation on unmanned aerial vehicles, said the industry "will always be behind the eight ball and never reach its full potential" unless it is "up-front in addressing the unavoidable legal and privacy concerns that arise with the advent of any new technology." His comments came at an event at the National Press Club in Washington.

"Many here today have likely recognized that I’m deliberately not using the word 'drone,' because it carries a stigma. Most Americans don’t think about monitoring crops, search-and-rescue operations or the numerous other civilian uses of this technology. They think of Hellfire missiles and the headline-grabbing work our government is doing overseas," he said, according to his prepared remarks.

"While recognizing the potential for unmanned flight systems that lower cost, reduce risk, and allow access to environments that are currently inaccessible, we must also acknowledge the potential for their misuse," he said. "While many see [unmanned aerial vehicles] for the good they will do, they could also create a new avenue for bad actors to trespass on private property and violate Americans' privacy rights. Our laws will need to keep pace with this new technology, and I intend to be a leader in ensuring we pass the right laws."

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