Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Measuring Progress and Addressing Potential Privacy Concerns Would Facilitate Integration into the National Airspace System, Report to Congressional Requesters [open pdf - 1MB]
From the Highlights: "UAS [unmanned aircraft systems] do not carry a pilot on board, but instead operate on pre-programmed routes and by following commands from pilot-operated ground stations. UAS can be small, generally 55 pounds or less, or large. Current domestic uses include law enforcement, forest fire monitoring, border security, weather research, and scientific data collection. However, current uses are limited. FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] authorizes UAS operations on a case-by-case basis after conducting a safety review. FAA and the other federal agencies that have a role or interest in UAS are working to provide routine access for UAS into the national airspace system. As requested, this report discusses (1) the status of obstacles identified in GAO's [Government Accountability Office] 2008 report to integrate UAS into the national airspace system, (2) FAA's progress in meeting its congressional requirements for UAS, and (3) emerging issues. GAO reviewed and analyzed documents and interviewed relevant government, academic, and private-sector entities, as well as UAS users and civil liberties organizations. […] FAA should incorporate regular monitoring of its efforts to assess progress toward fulfilling its statutory requirements. FAA, DHS [Department of Homeland Security], and DOJ [Department of Justice] should explore whether any actions are needed to guide the collection and use of UAS-acquired data. GAO provided a draft of this report to officials at DOT [Department of Transportation], DHS, DOJ, and three other agencies. DHS and DOJ concurred with the recommendation; DOT officials agreed to consider the recommendations."
Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/