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Obama Says Drones Need to Be Regulated, Day After White House Crash

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President Obama said Tuesday that the United States needs to find better ways to regulate drone use by companies and individuals, one day after an inexpensive quadcopter got stuck in a White House tree.

“There are incredibly useful functions that these drones can play in terms of farmers who are managing crops and conservationists who want to take stock of wildlife,” Obama said in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. “But we don’t really have any kind of regulatory structure at all for it.”

The breed of sub-$100 drone that crashed on White House property is part of a broad class recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration as “unmanned aerial vehicles” -– but despite their shared name, there’s a big difference between these small copters and their much larger cousins, like the Predator drones that carry out missile strikes abroad. The FAA is still in the process of developing regulations that allow for drone use in America’s backyards and businesses.

“I’ve assigned some of the relevant agencies to start talking to stakeholders, and figure out how we’re going to put an architecture in place that makes sure that these things aren’t dangerous and that they’re not violating peoples’ privacy,” Obama told CNN. “These technologies that we’re developing have the capacity to empower individuals in ways that we couldn’t even imagine 10-15 years ago.”

IN-DEPTH

--- NBC News Staff

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