08/07/2012

Police, fire depts. testing drones for local use

Law enforcement is getting more grant money for drones, but FAA restrictions keep them grounded

Times Record News

WASHINGTON — On a chaparral-covered hillside 40 miles north of Los Angeles in June 2010, researchers from the Department of Homeland Security hid a device the size of a pack of cigarettes that emitted a safe pulse of low-grade radiation.

It was a stand-in for a dirty bomb, or fallout from a nuclear meltdown.

Nearby, a pilot toggled a joystick and a gray drone with the wingspan of a California condor banked through the sky. As the plane's sensor sniffed for radioactive isotopes, law enforcement officers and firefighters watched a portable controller that looked like an oversized Game Boy.

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