Austin Bans Drones During SXSW

PHOTO CREDIT: DJI
PHOTO CREDIT: DJI

The regulatory battle over the right to fly drones has heated up here, just in time for South by Southwest (SXSW).

According to Austin TV station KEYE, the city’s police chief has mandated that no one fly drones near big events like SXSW, on possible pain of prosecution.

“Believe me, in the state of Texas folks don’t like drones,” Austin police chief Art Acevedo said at a press conference earlier this week, “so if you operate one, we will get a call, you will be subject to confiscation or arrest.”

A city ordinance written to restrict the use of full-scale aircraft over Austin is at the heart of Acevedo’s justification for banning drones, according to the owners of a creative technology studio in town. Chaotic Moon Studios, which had been planning on flying a drone at SXSW known as “Tyrone,” which could “tag a wall with spray paint, accost onlookers with silly string, or deter attackers with a three foot flame,” put out a press release to decry the city’s ban.

“Drone Tyrone is about pushing the utility aspects of drone and beacon technology,” Chaotic Moon Studios wrote. “We wanted to prove that you can use these vehicles for more than just aerial photography.”

The studio said that the police department is basing its ban on City Ordinance 13-1. At his press conference, Acevedo said that unless a drone pilot “has an aircraft [Federal Aviation Administration] certificate of air worthiness and a pilot has an airman certificate,” flying a drone could put its owner in legal jeopardy.

Even with that documentation, he added, according to the TV station, “You are not allowed to fly low over crowds or in between buildings.”

Acevedo also cited security concerns.

Bryce Bencivengo, Austin’s senior public information officer, told VentureBeat that exceptions would be made for pilots who had made previous arrangements with SXSW, meaning there may be some drones flying around the event.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Venture Beat, Daniel Terdiman

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