By Jason Allen

NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – They’re already flying missions for the military and police. Though nowadays unmanned aerial vehicles are just as likely to be flown by your new next door neighbor, eager to move into their new home.

Amazon’s announcement Sunday that it was working on a drone delivery system for packages created a huge buzz. But the buzz from drones is growing louder even without the billion-dollar internet retailer.

In Southlake Monday, George Potter pulled his white quad-copter out of a case, popped in a battery, and was flying within minutes. With an attached camera, he has been recording construction progress on a home his sister is building. From the site prep, to the framing, they’ve had a birds eye view of the whole thing.

“You can either hire a helicopter for $800 an hour, or something like this,” he said.

As a home inspector, Potter is already seeing the potential benefits for business as well. He doesn’t use it for commercial purposes now, something the FAA is still developing standards for. Those high pitched roofs and inaccessible spots however, just wouldn’t be a problem to reach though anymore.
“There’s no need to have somebody use a bucket truck, or a ladder to climb a pole, from a safety standpoint even,” he said.

Potter’s quad-copter is quick, maybe up to 30 mph, but only flies for five to six minutes, and can’t go more than about 1,000 feet from his controller. The limited range has him doubtful about Amazon’s plan.

A University of Texas at Austin Radionavigation Laboratory research team told CBS 11 this past summer it was hoping to develop drones for a similar use. Team leader Todd Humphreys joked that he was waiting for the day a drone could deliver a burrito for lunch. Humphreys, who has been doing work showing the current lack of security on GPS systems, said Monday it was a bold move by Amazon. The clout the company carries he said, could go a long way with government regulators and perhaps open the door for more users. Security will be a major hurdle he said, but he believed it could be possible by 2020-22.

Humphreys said he could see a GPS antenna on the Amazon drone in a video released, but no camera. That would let it operate within a Texas law passed this year, that banned photography of people by unmanned vehicles without their permission.

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