States Answer Help-Wanted Ad to Be Drone Test Site

A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy assembles the SkySeer, an autonomous drone aircraft used for surveillance and reconnaissance.

Activists plan to protest against domestic drones, like this one belonging to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

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Joseph Zeis of the Dayton Development Coalition doesn't see this as a competition.

"When the test site selection is over, we're all collaborating on a single goal" to safely merge drones into the national airspace, said Zeis, who's spearheading the Ohio-Indiana venture.

The FAA is expected to choose the six drone test sites by year's end.

The specter of thousands of unmanned eyes swarming the sky in the coming years has unnerved privacy advocates, who fear ordinary Americans would be overzealously monitored by law enforcement, considered one of the top users of the technology in the future. As part of the selection process, test site hopefuls must publish a privacy policy and follow existing privacy laws.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International does not have a favorite. But the voice for the domestic drone industry acknowledged that states hosting test sites would benefit economically.

In a report published earlier this month, the group said states with an already solid aerospace industry are predicted to gain drone business. But other factors, including location of test sites, will also drive job creation.

That's why California needs to act fast, said state assemblyman Jeff Gorell, who has been pushing for a test site in his district.

"This is a great opportunity for California," he said. "We might be able to recapture some of the golden era of aerospace."

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