Miami Beach Starts Using Blimps After Florida Drone Ban Comes Into Effect

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Drones get a bad rap, that’s for sure, but they offer a lot of advantages in certain areas.

One of those is helping police and emergency personnel.

drone airport
Image by Caleb Woods

But a recent law in Florida banning the use of drones in monitoring private citizens has caused the police department there to get a little creative.

In fact, they’re bringing back an old – but classic – technology to help them get around the Freedom from Unwanted Surveillance Act, passed in 2015.

FStoppers describes the Miami Beach device as a “tethered aerostat” that has a camera gimbal attached to its bottom. If that sounds a lot like a drone to you, it does to us and FStoppers as well though remarkably less agile and controllable we would imagine.

The Miami Beach officials think that the device meets all of their needs and doesn’t violate the Florida law. Citing its necessity in crowd control and for monitoring for situations like terrorism, the city manager Jimmy Morales said of the blimp that it “provided an ideal vantage point in an unobtrusive manner, with a sleek, yet friendly look.”

FStoppers also points out that several companies online sell tethered aerostats as “light than air” drones. How that comports with the Freedom from Unwanted Surveillance Act, we don’t know, but the blimp has made a public appearance already at a December 28 sporting event.

2018 was a wild year for drones, with the Gatwick airport incident topping off what can only be described as a stream of headlines bemoaning the social ills these innovative devices bring. Unwanted surveillance is definitely a concern but not one as common as the fear that malicious UAV pilots will use their drones for terrorist attacks.

The fear for that is so overwhelming that airports in the UK were closed based on the mere allegation of a drone being the vicinity.

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Kehl is our staff photography news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here

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