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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—As commercial uses of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) continue to make headlines, the city’s own private non-profit developer recently published a new video recorded by a DJI Phantom, a popular brand of remote controlled quadricopters.

Ominous music accompanies stunning shots of buildings erected by New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO), including the Heldrich Hotel on George Street, and the Gateway Center on Somerset Street.

These structures have reshaped the cityscape of New Brunswick, and DEVCO intends to continue to do so with their current push for redevelopment of the Ferren Mall and Parking Garage located on Albany Street.

DEVCO President Chris Paladino told New Brunswick Today that the video was simply a “test piece” and the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was borrowed from a friend for the day in order to make the video.

Paladino says his goal is “to inform students’ and alumni’s perspective of the College Avenue Project.”

He says DEVCO also plans on doing an informative video with the DJI Phantom on the historic 15 Washington Street in Newark.

Unlike many DEVCO projects where buildings are demolished to make way for new and larger ones, the Newark development involves rehabiliating an existing highrise building owned by Rutgers-Newark.

The DJI Phantom, which can cost anywhere from $400 to $2,000 depending on the model, was featured in the news earlier this month when two New York City residents, Remy Castro and Wilkins Mendoza, were arrested and charged with “reckless endangerment” of pedestrians.

The two men claim they were flying their “drone” for recreational purposes near the George Washington Bridge. However, they flew too close to a helicopter owned by the New York Police Department who spotted them.

Aerial cinematography is a growing field thanks to the accessibility of these remote control helicopters commonly referred to as “drones.”

As we reported in January, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has enlisted six universities, including Rutgers University and Virginia Tech, to research drones and how their “failure modes” work.

A drone, by definition, is not just an unmanned aerial vehicle, but has computer-guided navigation systems so it can essentially fly by itself without the guidance of a human operator.

Nowadays, the word “drone” is often misused to describe any type of unmanned aircraft, usually referring to remote control helicopters including quadrocopters (with four arms) and octocopters (with eight arms, like the UAV Optics vehicle featured at New Brunswick’s 2013 Ciclovia and the Raritan River Festival).

Actual self-flying drones are best known for their uses by the United States military in many other countries including Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran. 

The U.S. military has been using drones overseas with missiles and surveillance equipment attached in order to “dismantle networks that pose a direct danger to us” and to combat those who are “actively plotting to kill U.S. citizens,” President Obama said in a recent statement on his secret authorization of the 2011 planned drone strikes that resulted in the killing four American citizens in Yemen.

Governor Chris Chrsitie recently pocket vetoed a proposed bill that would have put restrictions on law enforcement drones in the state of New Jersey.

In February of this year, an FAA crackdown on the commercial use of “drones” resulted in widespread reporting on the issue after the agency stopped a brewery from shipping beer to ice fishers via UAV’s. 

However, according to a recent Forbes article, “commercial drones” are becoming more prevalent in today’s society. In the article, Robert Bowman writes that the FAA took no official legal stance against one company’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles.

The company, located in Texas, uses UAV’s to search for people who are missing, and they sued the FAA once they received an email from them.

Part of the reason the FAA is enforcing these restrictions is the fact that they want to test U.S. government unmanned aerial vehicles in America before they “clear the skies” for commercial use in the proposed year of 2025.

Reporter at New Brunswick Today

Molly O'Brien is a law student and reporter in the city of New Brunswick.

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Molly O'Brien

Molly O'Brien is a law student and reporter in the city of New Brunswick.