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Every drone on Penn's campus must be under 55 pounds, and must fly below 200 feet at a speed of less than 100 miles per hour.

Credit: Don McCullough

Penn recently released a set of guidelines for the use of unmanned aircraft systems, informally known as drones, on or above Penn’s campus, Morris Arboretum, the New Bolton Center and Pennovation Works, according to Penn’s Almanac.

The University created these guidelines to “ensure the safety and protect the privacy of all members of the University community and promote compliance with all applicable federal and state laws,” according to the Almanac. In accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules, Penn will allow the operation of drones for licensed educational and recreational activities or research.

Among the rules listed by the Almanac, a drone must fly below 200 feet at a speed of less than 100 miles per hour. The guidelines also specify that there are no drone flights allowed at large gatherings or sporting events. They are also not to interfere with the operations of manned aircrafts, such as the medical helicopters of Penn’s hospitals.

Every drone on Penn’s campus must be under 55 pounds, and if between 0.55 and 55 pounds, must be registered with the FAA.

If anyone is caught in violation of these policies, they could be subject to disciplinary action or prosecution, according to the Almanac. The drone’s operator is financially responsible for any damages caused by a flight, unless it was for authorized research or educational purposes.

There are rising domestic and international concerns about how drones might affect the safety and privacy of citizens. For example, a Colorado town considered creating a “drone-hunting ordinance” before rejecting the idea, and the French military is training eagles to destroy drones because of terrorism concerns.