PBS Special Follows the 'Rise of the Drones'

Producer Peter Yost talks about convincing the government to provide access for the documentary.

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After a number of refusals, filmmakers were able to get approval from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to shoot the documentary.

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I think that's why dozens and dozens of countries are getting these, and the genie is kind of out of the bottle. You don't have to build redundancies like you would if you had people on board. It's a balance between making them cheap and making them safe. You don't want to be crashing a drone every week, but you can tolerate a larger failure rate.

So most of this documentary and much of the drone debate has focused on their use in war, but they are already flying in the United States. Do you think that flies under the radar?

I liked the story of the first domestic shootdown of a drone. I think it embodies some of the complexities in a nutshell we're going to see coming out in the coming years. It remains to be seen how it's going to play out. There's a Rand Paul quote in there about how in two or three years, there may be tens of thousands of drones. That's an interesting point.

Some people don't think about this much, but there's a military drone industrial complex if you will. When things wind down overseas and we pull armaments back home, these companies are in business to sell drones. And there's a lot of sheriff departments looking to buy them. As things cool off on the war fighting front, a lot of that will shift back here.

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