As the debate in Congress over the use of drones to strike Americans linked to terrorists heats up… UND is leading the way in creating a code of ethics for the use of drones in civilian life.
UND is one of 4 research areas across the Country, that's testing a small drone called the "Draganflyer" in 16 counties across northeastern North Dakota. The small drone was provided by federal money and is now being tested at UND in conjunction with the Grand Forks Sheriff's Department.
A camera mounted on it can send back video to law enforcement officers on the ground. But, the Draganflyer must meet a code of ethics that has already been established, before it ever leaves the ground.
Its use must be approved by a special, 15-member committee made up of UND faculty members, law enforcement and Community members.
At this point, the Draganflyer is only approved for 2 types of law enforcement missions.
Sheriff Bob Rost, GF County: "The Committee that governs how this aircraft is used has only authorized us to use it in that 16 county area for disasters and looking for missing persons."
Alan Frazier, UND Aerospace: "We feel like we're at the tip of a spear in this realm and we think it's important we do it in a proper manor so that others can follow."
Sheriff Bob Rost says you can rest assured it will not be used to spy on anyone.
Reporter: "So, nobody has to worry about partying in the backyard and the Sheriff's Department is looking in?"
Sheriff Bob Rost: "Absolutely not. Absolutely not, that would be unauthorized use so…"
So as the debate over the use of drones by the federal government continues, it appears a watchful eye is being kept on drones, at least at a local level.
The testing of that Draganflyer drone in Grand Forks will be the subject of a special report on the TV program, CBS Sunday Morning, one week from Sunday.