The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has OK’d commercial drone operations over people for the government of Rutherford County, Tenn., through a Part 107 waiver.
Vantage Robotics says the county will deploy Vantage’s Snap drone, a lightweight aircraft with shrouded rotors and the ability to absorb significant energy on impact, thanks to its frangible design, the company says.
Attorney James Mackler, whose law firm handled the application, says, “Rutherford County is now the first and only county government in the nation with a Part 107 waiver allowing these kinds of missions in both emergency and non-emergency situations.”
According to Vantage, Rutherford County came to the company looking to enhance the effectiveness of its current small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) program.
”We have found in Rutherford County a need to be able to capture data and imagery of events, like a controversial rally and counter-protest in downtown Murfreesboro October of 2017,” says Mike Curtis, GIS manager for Rutherford County’s Office of Information Technology. “While we had some sUAS in the air, the restrictions of keeping the sUAS over structures limited our capability to monitor the event as it evolved. The ability to capture data and imagery of these types of events will help us keep the public safer.”
“Demands of today’s local governments mean we must function in as many scenarios as possible. The ability to safely and appropriately maneuver our aerial assets over and near event personnel or participants gives our program several new possibilities,” adds Brian Robertson, the county’s chief information officer. “Whether for routine coverage of numerous events such as Main Street’s Jazz Fest in May and Uncle Dave Macon Days in July, or during incidents such as the Nov. 6 tornado, the ability to capture the gravity or details of these events from the unique perspective is a major addition to this public service.”
Last year, CNN was also granted a similar waiver for the Snap drone.