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May 23, 2015

Drones are becoming a community builder New Jersey

Meetups show signs of a growing movement

Drones could well become the duct tape of the 21st century (or the 22nd, if that mantle belongs to apps). Delivery to make? There's a drone for that. Shooting a film? Why not use a drone for aerial tracking shots? Fighting a war? Talk to whoever the Q of DARPA is. The list goes on.

Unmanned aerial vehicles are fast becoming a mainstream appliance. According to the Courier-Post, drone manufacturer 3D Robotics estimates at least 500,000 drones were sold in the United States in 2014. By 2020, the FAA estimates drones will comprise a $90 billion industry.

New Jersey figures to be a big piece of the pie. Hobbyists, or "droneheads," have banded together to create clubs that talk flight physics, safety tips and stories, not to mention experiment with their modified handiwork.

The state's Oaklyn Rotor-E Drones Club boasts 50 members who abide by the FAA's strict rules during gatherings: drones must be flown in line of sight, in daylight, and not above 400 feet. All club members have licenses from the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the world's largest advocate for personal-use drones in sport and recreation.

As more and more people become involved in the recreational use of drones, considerable legal and privacy concerns surrounding their use will become a matter of greater public knowledge. As often happens when technology outpaces its social effects, regulators are playing catch up. Because there's such variety in the commercial, government, and private uses of drones, each domain requires its own optimal balance between economic and social benefits and potential threats to safety and rights.

But for drone manufacturers and enthusiasts in New Jersey, it's gotten to be more than a hobby. It's becoming an actual movement for social connection and technology training.

Read more at the Courier-Post.