COLUMBUS, Ohio â€“ Ohioâ€™s skies could be crowded with drones soon.
Ohio University researchers are testing unmanned aircraft for non-warfare applications, Dayton-area officials are applying to become a tests region for the unmanned airborne vehicles, all on the heels of a county sheriff getting permission to use the drones.
Ohio University officials say the drones are being studied for their use in inspecting crops and power lines, and in helping police during search-and-rescue operations.
The unmanned aircraft are different than those used by the military, but critics are concerned about privacy risks posed by camera-equipped drones.
Privacy rights experts say, if they are used for law-enforcement purposes, anything the drones catch in plain view is constitutional.
Regional leaders in the Miami Valley applied yesterday to the federal government to become one of six testing sites for the unmanned aircraft.
If the region is selected, drones would be tested for safety in manned civilian airspace.
Earlier this week, the Federal Aviation Administration gave the Medina Couinty sheriff’s office permission to fly unmanned aircraft to search for missing people or fugitives.
Sheriff Tom Miller says the camera-equipped helicopter deputies will use will not spy on residents.