Hobbyists ask for exemption to drone ban

Published On: Feb 18 2014 05:51:47 PM HST   Updated On: Feb 19 2014 09:17:26 AM HST

Call it a drone or a newfangled model aircraft.

It's not hard to see why Estin Ma loves to fly it.

Ma built the device from a kit.  It got him thinking bigger.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz's story.

"I decided hey, there is something here. I am going to become an electrical engineer and now I am back in school," said Ma as he tested his unmanned aerial device out on the lawn fronting the state Capitol.

Ma and others want lawmakers to exempt hobbyists from a bill that would restrict drone use to law enforcement agencies.

"Flying model aircraft is nothing new. The reason why it is gaining popularity today is that its price point dropped and more people who can now afford it," said Eric Ryan.

Ryan also fears what the restrictions will do for those eyeing it for commercial use.

"I am a local entrepreneur researching model aircraft for improving logistics and sensing," Ryan said.

North Shore resident Eric Sterman was stunned when his surf video of pipeline using a drone saw 3.5 million hits in a month.

"As for the commercial part there is a huge industry for that . There is no limit to how far you can go with that but technically you are not supposed to, which is kind of a bummer but it’s because there is no regulations on that yet," said Sterman.

 The possibilities are endless ,and a lot of folks worry that these new rules will put an end to something that is just getting off the ground.

"There's opportunity. The way the bill is written now, it kills that dream completely," said Estin Ma.

And while these enthusiasts agree some regulation is necessary-- they hope the proposed restrictions will weigh what's possible with this technology for the up-and- coming generation.

"If drones are the future and you ban them, you take away their future and tools for learning. You could compare it to robotics. It’s a gateway. One day you are building your DIY kits and the next day you are doing mainframes for Hawaiian Electric Company. It's always a possibility,"

"There is no turning back on technology like this. So it's more a matter of going forward   with some type of regulatory process so there is some type of guarantee that people's privacies  are not being violated," said judiciary chairman Sen. Clayton Hee.

The committee advanced SB bill 2608 with amendments. Hee said it is headed for a floor vote.

PHOTOS: Drone at the Capitol

Click here to see more photos of a drone.


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