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UP Gazette

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Mackinac Island experimenting with drone restrictions


By Amanda Smith-Teutsch | Sep 23, 2019

Mackinac Island, Michigan | Wikipedia

A city in Northern Michigan is trying out a new Michigan state law that gives the popular tourist destination the ability to regulate drones within its jurisdictional boundaries.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently signed legislation crafted by state Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City), which gives Mackinac Island the authority over drones. Drones are small, flying robots that often look like small helicopters and are often equipped with cameras. 

Tourists often use drones to capture unique, arial videos of scenic spots and locations. The robots have also been used in law enforcement and fire fighting capacities

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City). | http//senatorwayneschmidt.com

“The popularity and capabilities of drones have greatly increased over the last few years and I think there are some reasonable guidelines that need to be put in place,” Schmidt said in a press release. “Mackinac Island is a unique tourist destination with a very specific model that is carefully followed. Drones have been known to spook the horses, which can cause unnecessary stress and injuries to the animals, but they can also endanger guests and be a threat to public safety.”

The new law is called Public Act 32 of 2019. It allows Mackinac Island to create restrictions on drone use. 

Some examples include prohibiting drones around places like prisons, bridges and tourist areas. Alarming horses on the island is of particular concern, as cars are not permitted and most travel occurs in horse-drawn carriages.

The city has already created rules saying that people must get permission from authorities before flying drones in certain areas.

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