Federal Aviation Administration Michael Huerta will testify next week before the Senate Commerce Committee on safety and privacy issues surrounding the operation of drones, as well as progress that the FAA has made in facilitating development of the industry through the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

Also scheduled to testify at the Jan. 15 hearing are Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, and Missy Cummings, director of the Humans and Autonomy Laboratory at Duke University’s Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. The hearing will be webcast live.

Last month the FAA selected six institutions to conduct drone tests to explore how to set safety standards and avoid collisions between drones and piloted aircraft. Although the FAA was supposed to have named those institutions in August, Huerta has said the FAA will meet the goal set by lawmakers of integrating drones into the nation’s airspace by September 2015, USA Today reports.

While their use remains a legal gray area — hobbyists are allowed to fly drones away from airports at altitudes under 400 feet — a growing number of real estate brokers and agents are experimenting with drones to shoot video and photos of listings. Source: commerce.senate.gov.

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