"All the pieces appear to be lining up for the eventual introduction of routine aerial surveillance in American life -- a development that would profoundly change the character of public life in the United States," the American Civil Liberties Union warned in a policy paper on drones last year titled, "Protecting Privacy From Aerial Surveillance."
"Where aviation was in 1925, that's where we are today with unmanned aerial vehicles," said Al Palmer, director of UND's Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Research, Education and Training. "The possibilities are endless."
The University of North Dakota operates a fleet of seven different types of unmanned aircraft. In 2009, it became the first college in the country to offer a four-year degree in unmanned aircraft piloting. It now has 23 graduates and 84 students majoring in the program, which is open only to U.S. citizens...
The university also serves as an incubator for companies that might want to expand the industry. In five days, Unmanned Applications Institute International, which provides training in operating drones, can teach a cop how to use a drone the size of a bathtub toy.
"If you're concerned about it, maybe there's a reason we should be flying over you, right?" said Douglas McDonald, the company's director of special operations and president of a local chapter of the unmanned vehicle trade group.