US President Barack Obama urged regulation of the commercial and recreational use of un-crewed aircraft — or drones — a rapidly growing industry, after one of those devices crashed on the White House grounds.
In remarks released Tuesday in an interview with CNN recorded in India, Obama commented that drones can perform “incredibly useful” tasks and gave the example of their ability to monitor crops or the plan by Amazon to use them to deliver packages.
“But we don’t really have any kind of regulatory structure at all for it,” he said.
Obama said he communicated with the Federal Aviation Administration, which has already issued some guidelines on the use of drones, and with other government departments asking them to study how to regulate “this new technology.”
On Monday morning, a man operating a small drone known as a “quadcopter” apparently lost control of it and it crashed on the White House grounds. It was about 60 cm (2 feet) in diameter.
The man — who had been operating the drone recreationally — called the US Secret Service Monday to “self-report” the incident and was questioned by agents.
According to White House spokesman Josh Earnest, the incident posed no threat to anyone in the presidential residence.
Obama and his wife Michelle were on an official visit to India at the time and their two daughters and the president’s mother-in-law, Marian Robinson, who lives with the First Family, were in Washington but it has not been reported whether they were at the White House.