"Drone" is becoming an increasingly common word in our 21st-century vocabulary, and to many it strikes a fearful note: it conjures images of stealth Predator drones, or incites concerns about Big Brother–esque surveillance techniques. And with a recent, and still largely opaque, mandate that offers new, less bridled regulations on the domestic use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, these concerns are rising more and more to the fore. But are these worries well founded? And how did we get to the point that UAVs are becoming an ever-readier part of quotidian life in the United States?
John Villasenor, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and professor of Electrical Engineering at UCLA, puts the unfolding history of drones into wider perspective. Also offering his opinion is Charles Easterling, founder of Crescent Unmanned Systems LLC, which manufacturers UAVs for public and commercial use.