Wisconsin Geospatial News

New drone regulations introduced

New regulations on the use of drones (Unmanned Aerial Systems) are cropping up at the federal, state, and local levels.

The Wisconsin Legislature has introduced a bill placing additional restrictions on drone use in Wisconsin. Senate Bill 498 was introduced on Jan. 5, 2016 and referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.

The bill prohibits the operation of drones over a state correctional institution including any grounds of the institution, subject to a forfeit of up to $5000 and seizure of any visual imagery or data acquired by the drone.

The bill also allows a political subdivison (a city, village, town, or county) to enact an ordinance designating areas in which the operation of a drone is prohibited. Such an ordinance may not apply to drones operated by the state, a state agency, or a public safety agency, or if the operation of the drone is conducted with the permission of the property owner.

In this proposed legislation, a drone means a “powered, aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator, uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift, and can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely.”

The companion Assembly Bill AB670 was introduced on Jan. 11, 2016.

Existing Wisconsin drone legislation includes the 2014 Drone Privacy Protection Act that requires law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant prior to using a drone to collect evidence, and prohibits individuals from using a drones with the intent to photograph or observe an individual in a place where the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Drone regulations are also tightening up at the national level. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) now requires registration of small drones weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds, including drones operated exclusively as model aircraft. The full rule can be viewed hereThe FAA has also released a mobile app called B4UFLY that informs users about current or upcoming requirements and restrictions in areas of the National Airspace System. For more details see the FAA website