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But rather than launching missiles, domestically flown drones could fill a variety of peaceful roles, from aerial photography and land surveying to law-enforcement duties such as monitoring red-light running and speeding.
They also could be used for clandestine surveillance, triggering privacy concerns from civil-rights experts who worry about indiscriminate snooping on law-abiding citizens, not just criminal suspects.
But the FAA will not decide how the drones are used and under what circumstances, he said. Those questions, he said, are for lawmakers and judges to decide.
WASHINGTON: Boeing today announced a "new era" in intelligence gathering when the US aviation giant tested its new drone that can stay airborne for four days without refuelling completed its first autonomous flight, despite a rough landing.
Defense Minister Norbert Darabos says the drones could be used to help protect troops on foreign soil through surveillance as well as in case of natural catastrophes such as avalanches. He also says the unmanned aircraft may also be used to watch borders crossed by illegal immigrants but only if they do not violate "the private space" of individuals.
A new unmanned surveillance drone that can stay aloft for four days at a time and has a wingspan bigger than a 757 successfully completed its first test flight over California's Mojave Desert, though it sustained minor damage on landing.