Free the drones, a thriving industry—so long as regulators do not try to tether them to the ground

ONE of this year’s top-selling Christmas presents is a drone. For $50 you can buy a tiny quadcopter with a video camera

Initially developed for military use, drones are taking off in civilian life largely thanks to the falling costs of commodity electronics. A smartphone contains a raft of devices that can be deployed in drones, including gyroscopes, accelerometers, wireless transmitters, signal processors and GPS units.

Like any disruptive technology, commercial drones will hurt existing businesses. Some pilots will lose their jobs as more farmers and logistics firms use drones instead of hiring a helicopter or aircraft. The incumbents’ opposition to the drone industry is understandable. The FAA’s is not. It should take a more objective view, and free commercial drones.

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