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Local Business Leaders Seek Drone Industry Dominance

— One of today's most controversial growth industries is still looking for a home, and a new coalition of business leaders is working to make sure that when people think drones, they think San Diego.

Aired 3/26/13 on KPBS News.

One of today's most controversial growth industries is still looking for a home, and a new coalition of business leaders is working to make sure that when people think drones, they think San Diego.

The MQ-1 Predator is one model of drone already being manufactured by General Atomics. Local business leaders hope to establish an FAA test site for such unpiloted aircraft in the region.

"We want to see the San Diego area become a center of excellence for unmanned systems," said Sean Barr of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, speaking on behalf of the coalition. The term unmanned systems refers to the pilot-less aircraft commonly called drones, an increasingly crucial tool in modern warfare and government surveillance.

Barr and his allies said San Diego's large military presence, skilled workforce and growing defense industry make the region an ideal homebase for drone research, manufacturing, and testing.

But some San Diegans worry about drones infringing on privacy and civil liberties. Dave Patterson with San Diego Veterans for Peace wants to know exactly what the government plans to do with all these drones.

"If it brings good jobs and the people have good jobs, that's fine, but we want oversight over what people are doing with this technology," he said.

But with spending on drones projected to double over the next decade, Barr remains focussed on the economic windfall they could deliver to San Diego.

"We understand the concerns with civil liberties. From the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation's perspective, our interests lie in creating jobs."

Comments

Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 26, 2013 at 11:47 a.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

I don't care about your privacy, I care about jobs. Right?

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | March 26, 2013 at 12:36 p.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

The drones are coming. The jobs may or may not. Let's get on the front side of the tech this time.

( | suggest removal )