The skies over Alameda County may soon be automated, as the Sheriff has announced his intention to purchase a UAV drone to aid with policing, search and rescue, and drug detection missions. The small drone would cost up to $100,000.

The idea of a drone is still rather unconventional, as only a handful of police forces in the country have drones so far. But the lower costs to operate a drone compared to a helicopter could prove to be a method to save the County money. It could prove especially helpful in the large and unincorporated areas of the County.

To help offset the cost, the Sheriff is looking at grant money from the Department of Homeland Security, where the idea of domestic drone use has been largely advocated.

But opponents say that the technology does not come with procedures for protecting privacy. While advertised as a tool for specialized missions, the drone could be equipped with cameras and laser speed sensors. Being virtually invisible makes some worry about how it will impact their right to privacy.

Read the full story at the Mercury News.