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Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/Systems

A Guide to Finding Government and Legal Information

Web version of this guide includes links to web resources.

Search Tips:

Mix and match these terms in searching the library catalog, WestCat , or use them to search journal articles and law reviews via the library's Databases page. You can also use them to search government information sites listed on our Starting Points page - click the tab and pay particular attention to the Top Six.

  • unmanned aerial vehicles
  • unmanned aircraft systems
  • drone aircraft
  • UAV or UAS
  • flight control
  • agriculture
  • weather
  • border management
  • aerial photography
  • remotely piloted aircraft
  • terrorism prevention
  • law enforcement
  • national security
  • aerial reconnaissance
  • crisis management
  • counterterrorism
  • natural disasters
  • search and rescue

Related Topics:
  • drone warfare
  • privacy
  • surveillance

An important source for many research topics is Congress. Congressional committees and subcommittees hold hearings on a wide variety of controversial and timely subjects. Simply add the word "hearing?" to a search string in WestCat .

Search Engines

Google and StartPage
Use these search engines to search for government information by typing "site:gov" in the search box preceding your search terms:

  • site:gov "unmanned aircraft systems"
  • site:mil drones
Law Review Articles and Annotations

Law reviews are an important resource for legal topics like this one. They can lead you to laws and cases as well as discuss legal theory. A few law journals are indexed in multidisciplinary databases, but the best bang for your buck will be to search Nexis Uni for full-text access to many hundreds of law reviews.

Federal Government Information
Military Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)

This online exhibit from the Air & Space Museum provides highlights in the development of UAVs.

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) (FAA)

This webpage describes how the FAA is integrating unmanned aerial systems into national airspace amid privacy and other concerns.

The Future of Drones in America: Law Enforcement and Privacy Considerations

Even though the potential for nefarious use of commercial, privately owned, or government owned UAS's is great, the panel only recommends an updating of the privacy laws in general to address this concern.
Y 4.J 89/2:S.HRG. 113-50

Aerial Drones Give NOAA Scientists a New Perspective

A scientist uses a small drone to study the leopard seal near Antarctica. 2012

Progress in Implementing New Security Measures Along the Southwest Border

This Homeland Security press release details progress made on border security since the launch of the Southwest Border Initiative in early 2009, including the use of UASs. 2010

Using Unmanned Aerial Systems Within the Homeland: Security Game-Changer?

With non-government drones deploying nation-wide by 2015, who will take the regulatory lead in terms of safety, privacy issues, and abuse of authority?

NASA Flies Unmanned Aircraft Into Volcanic Plume

INL's Unmanned Aircraft Survey the Landscape with a Focus on the Environment

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems for Disaster Relief: Tornado Alley

The Role of Unmanned Aerial Systems in Border Security

Photographing Land Changes From Low in the Sky

Illinois Government Information
The Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act, 725 ILCS 167/1, et seq.

It's not really freedom from surveillance, it's freedom from the information gathered being used in a criminal in court, unless it was obtained properly.

Legal Information
Domestic Surveillance via Drones: Looking Through the Lens of the Fourth Amendment

This article examines the use of drones by law enforcement in light of Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, social contract theory, and the culture of fear brought on by 9/11 and its exploitation by governmental law enforcement agencies.
Northern Illinois University Law Review, vol.33, p.579, via Nexis Uni

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