Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Drones have many uses. But Michigan lawmakers want to discourage one in particular: delivering contraband to state prison inmates.

Across the country in recent months, people trying to smuggle all kinds of things into prisons have turned to drones. 

The ArduCopter from DIY Drones can take pictures in the sky.
DIY Drones

Legislation in Lansing would make it a crime to fly a drone around the state Capitol building without a permit.

The Michigan State Capitol Commission is responsible for maintaining the Capitol grounds, and it voted unanimously on Monday to ban remote-controlled aerial vehicles from flying over the building.

Consumers Energy first Michigan utility to test drone

Jun 23, 2015
The ArduCopter from DIY Drones can take pictures in the sky.
DIY Drones

Consumers Energy launched an unmanned aerial vehicle for the first time yesterday, becoming the first energy company in Michigan to receive approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to test the machine. 

UAVs, commonly known as drones, are aircraft that fly without a human pilot. 

Detroit suburb to consider banning drones

Apr 27, 2015
Don McCullough / Flickr Creative Commons

The City Council of Ferndale will discuss an ordinance tonight that would ban drones from the Detroit suburb's airspace. The proposed ban would not apply to law enforcement, and people would be able to fly drones over their own property.

The ordinance says unmanned drones raise privacy and public safety concerns. 

Could drones detect leaks at oil and gas sites?

Mar 12, 2015
Reid R. Frazier / The Allegheny Front

Some people think drones could help detect pollution and dangerous leaks from the oil and gas business. The technology is taking off, but federal regulations could hold back the use of these drones.


The Michigan State Police has become the first law enforcement agency with permission to use a drone statewide.

The state police purchased a drone in September 2013.

Since then, the agency has been working with the Federal Aviation Administration to meet safety and training requirements.

The ArduCopter from DIY Drones can take pictures in the sky.
DIY Drones

Got a drone you want to test? 

Now you’ve got a place in Michigan to do just that, whether the drone is for military, commercial or academic use.  

Detroit as seen from a "drone" armed with a camera.
user Tretch5000 / YouTube

The Michigan State Police could soon blaze new ground in law enforcement.

They're on track to become the first police force in the country to be allowed to use an aerial drone just about anywhere in the state.

Wikimedia Commons

The word “drone” holds some negative connotations. However, some believe that commercial drones could help boost the economy. Aaron Cook, director of aviation at Northwestern Michigan College, is one of those people. He joined us today on Stateside.

Cook says when people understand what drones are, what they are not, and what they can do, they will realize the many business opportunities and safety opportunities these drones can provide. They could possibly improve the quality of life and increase productivity.

So what is a drone?

It’s basically a flying robot. It is an aircraft that does not need a human on board, but is controlled by people on the ground using GPS communication technology.

Cook emphasized that drones are not armed, specifically ones flying over U.S. soil, and are not intended to be used to invade citizens' privacy.

They are only meant for commercial use. BP was just approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to use drones in Alaska to monitor pipelines, roads, and equipment. Cook said drones can be used for similar options here in Michigan.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Peace activists plan to rally against the nation’s military drone program outside the gates of the Battle Creek Air National Guard base on Saturday.

Just this week, a pair of U.S. drone attacks killed sixteen people in Pakistan.  It’s the first attacks this year.     

Brian Terrell is with Voices for Creative Nonviolence.   He says the drone program is being abused.

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science / University of Michigan

Jeffrey P. Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, recently turned a few heads with his announcement that within a few years he expects deliveries to your home courtesy of unmanned aerial vehicles — also known as drones.

It’s been predicted that by 2025, there could be 175,000 of these UAVs in United States airspace — ranging from teeny, tiny nano-sized UAVs to a full-sized, pilotless airplane hauling cargo for UPS.

Development of these drones are popping up everywhere, including right here in Michigan. SkySpecs, a start-up coming out of the University of Michigan, is developing new ways to use UAVs — creating drones that can inspect everything from bridges to wind turbines and make sure these structures are safe.

We talked to Danny Ellis, the CEO of SkySpecs.

Listen to the full interview above.