Pete Molick loves architecture and photography. He’s combined those two passions in a unique way, with his off-the-shelf unmanned aerial vehicle, a drone.
“The great thing is you get these vantage points you could never imagine getting before,” he says. “I jumped at it and bought the first one that I could. I quickly became obsessed with it.”
Of course he’s not the only one using drones creatively but he’s getting a lot of attention for one project, Houston Crossings.
“I photograph intersections from above,” he explains. “Each photograph, the streets create an X essentially with an intersection centered on the middle. So you can put groups of these photos together and create collaged vignettes of the city.”
He knows, however, that despite the stunning images and fun technology drones provide, they are a source of great debate.
“There are a lot of privacy concerns for one,” he admits, “and you know people, there’s self-policing that has to happen where people have to not fly in areas that could be controversial like over people’s houses or near crowds of people.”
Texas, in fact, has a law on the books protecting people’s privacy from drones.
And it is one of six states where the FAA is testing UAVs ahead of issuing sweeping new guidelines by the end of the year. There’s virtually no regulation right now other than vague policy restricting commercial use.
“The most obvious challenge is how easily accessible they’re going to become,” says Geoffrey Corn, a professor at the South Texas College of Law. “I think the FAA’s main concern is going to be on safety. I think there is a genuine public concern about privacy because people don’t expect people to their neighbors to be flying their drones over their backyards with cameras.”
Molick agrees the FAA needs to issue rules sooner than later.
“We need to educate people about it,” he says. “But there probably needs to be license or program that helps that regulates who can have them up there.”
An FAA spokesperson told Eyewitness News, the agency is still planning on announcing those new rules for unmanned aerial vehicles by the end of 2014. There are reports that UAV operators will need pilot’s licenses, but that’s not a certainty yet.