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Governor Brown To Decide Where Drones Will Fly

Daniel Potter / Capital Public Radio

Jeremiah Johnson shows off a drone that can be set to automatically scan and map a given area from the roof of 3D Robotics in Berkeley.

Daniel Potter / Capital Public Radio

Several drone related bills are awaiting action by Governor Jerry Brown.

They aim to keep drones from flying into places where aircraft are fighting fires, or from dropping off contraband in prisons. Last year the governor vetoed several drone bills.

Brown's decisions come just as federal rules are easing restrictions on businesses that use drones.

Before the new federal rules, companies had to get an exemption from the FAA to pilot a drone, say for wedding pictures, or to inspect construction. California led the nation for those exemptions, with more than 40 businesses approved in areas from filmmaking to real estate.

Jeremiah Johnson works for 3D Robotics, one of numerous Bay Area drone tech companies. We’re standing on their office’s roof in Berkeley.

“I got my start flying airplanes, and riding in the back of helicopters. When I was working with aerial mapping, that’s the way you did it.”

Now such businesses don’t need a helicopter, or even a pilot.

“Super good news.”

Chris Anderson is 3DR’s CEO. He thinks as more businesses try out drones, more of their competitors will follow suit.

“Sometimes it’s a process by which people start a little skeptical, and then they see the data, and then they come around.”

Anderson says there are still rules drone users would like to see change. They’re not allowed to fly at night, or above 400 feet.

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Daniel Potter

Reporter

Daniel Potter started out as an intern at Nashville Public Radio, where he worked as a general assignment reporter for six years, covering everything from tornadoes to the statehouse.   Read Full Bio