FAA takes step toward widespread US drone flights

By By JOAN LOWY

WASHINGTON (AP) — A future in which unmanned drones are as common in U.S. skies as helicopters and airliners has moved a step closer to reality with a government request for proposals to create six drone test sites around the country.

The Federal Aviation Administration made the request Thursday, kicking off what is anticipated to be an intense competition between states hoping to win one of the sites.

The military has come to rely heavily on drones overseas. Possible users at home include police, power companies wanting to monitor transmission lines, farmers needing to detect which crops need water or even ranchers counting cows.

Privacy advocates worry that a proliferation of drones will lead to a "surveillance society" in which Americans are routinely monitored, tracked, recorded and scrutinized by the authorities.

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