A little-noted provision in North Carolina's budget bans police and other government agencies from buying surveillance drones for the next two years, as state lawmakers study the balance between security and privacy.
That should sideline plans by many officials who would like to deploy an economical eye in the sky. But the law allows exceptions, and the state Department of Transportation expects it will receive one to get a drone research field off the ground in rural Hyde County.
The state DOT's aviation division estimates it will spend about $2.5 million developing the site centered on a small airport that's surrounded by farm fields. DOT Deputy Secretary Richard Walls says the agency this spring got Federal Aviation Administration approval to fly drones in U.S. airspace.