Buying a drone at your local Walmart is the easy part.
Understanding the historical context, legal issues, and federal regulations surrounding unmanned aerial vehicles before flying your brand new quadcopter for the first time is harder.
A class starting later this month at Stockton University entitled “Introduction of Unmanned Aviation Systems” offers students a bird’s-eye view of the history of drones and the culture that has arisen around the airborne robots.
“When I teach a lecture — and I do that at least twice a month — I call my class ‘Keeping up with the Droneses,'” said instructor Adam Greco, underlining the fact that drone technology is going through a period of rapid changes. “It has turned things upside down.”
The Federal Aviation Administration estimates that nearly five million drones will be sold in 2017, almost double what flew off the shelves last year.
The class covers a variety of issues around drones: the history of the technology, the legislative climate, privacy and Fourth Amendment concerns, and rules and regulations for flying drones of different sizes and for different purposes.
Greco, an air traffic account manager at the FAA’s William J. Hughes Technical Center, an air transportation laboratory in Egg Harbor Township, said the most important part of the class focuses on the practical uses of drones.
“We talk about applications around the world and they are amazing,” he said. Drones are used for security, farming, and a host of other issues, Greco said, and will become an integral part of package delivery in years to come.
The 13-week class, which Greco teaches at Stockton and nearby Atlantic Cape Community College, is in its third year.