Campus updates policy on unmanned aircraft systems, or drones

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Don McCullough/Flickr/Creative Commons

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UC Police Department Chief Margo Bennett announced in a campuswide email sent Tuesday evening that the UC Berkeley policy on drone operation on campus property has been updated.

The policy went into effect Tuesday, and is in conjunction with UC-wide policies regarding drones, or unmanned aircraft systems, the email says.

“With the advancements and increased use of drones, this policy was developed to ensure the safety and privacy of our campus community members along with the general public and visitors on our campus,” Bennett said in the email. “I invite you to review the new policy to familiarize yourself with the conditions and operational approval process for drone use on our campus.”

Among the policy’s requirements are having sufficient liability insurance for the drone and possible damage, as well as providing a post-flight report to UCPD or the designated authority within three days of a flight. The pilot of the drone must also obtain approval from “the appropriate aviation agency” and UCPD, which the pilot must then keep on their person during the flight.

Only registered student organizations or campus courses that require drone use may use drones recreationally on campus. Drones can only be used without additional approval from UCPD at the Clark Kerr Campus Track, Richmond Field Station and La Loma Recreational Field.

Beyond recreational flights, one must file for a UCPD permit to use drones commercially, and then must list the UC Board of Regents and its officials as additional insured peoples.

Campus units may use drones for research, education, public service or campus business. Those who use nonuniversity-owned drones must confirm at least $1 million general liability before using the drone for campus purposes.

Those affiliated with the university — officials, faculty, staff or students — will face punishment that will be decided based on the violation. Those unaffiliated with the university, such as those flying drones for commercial purposes, may have their flight privileges revoked and could be banned from flying drones on campus, depending on the severity of the violation.

“Over the last few years, drones have become more widely available. As their technology improves and their price decreases, their use is likely to grow,” the policy reads. “This policy is intended to balance the use of drones for teaching, research, public service, and campus business purposes against the need to respect the campus’s longstanding regard for quiet, safety, and personal privacy.”

Sakura Cannestra is the executive news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @SakuCannestra.