by Sylvia Arnold
On Saturday, Jan. 4, a group of concerned community members met to discuss the presence and significance of Prioria Robotics, a drone manufacturing company, within the Porter’s community.
Bryan da Frota, the company’s CEO participated in the discussion. He explained the construction, models and uses of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). These include military, surveillance, emergency response, and geographical surveying.
He described one of Prioria’s UAS models, the Maveric. It can fly 1,300 ft above ground level with mounted cameras. Its main use is for reconnaissance purposes. It can fly 12–24 hours without stopping and is considered a full aircraft. It takes a team of 20-plus people to maintain support services. He assured the group that this device is not for eliminating people.
After Da Frota’s presentation, the community group discussed the issues surrounding the use of drones to kill civilians, in agriculture and sales to military, laws surrounding the operation of businesses like Prioria, policies on allocations of funds and the market associated with drone production, the University of Florida’s public subsidizing of military drone development, whether or not if specific applications of this technology infringe upon human rights, and how this is both a national and a local issue.
As a result of the discussion, the group will host a press conference followed by a picket at Prioria on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 11 a.m. There is also an information meeting following the picket on Saturday, Jan. 18, at the CMC at 12 p.m.
This coincides with the birthday of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King. The purpose of the picket is to draw attention to the presence of drone manufacturing next to the Porter’s community and to draw awareness to the issues surrounding these businesses in our community. Gainesville is home to five drone manufacturing companies.
For more information, search for MLK 2014 Drone Awareness on Facebook.