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A drone was flown on the floor of Congress

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Representatives got a tiny taste of the future at a hearing on unmanned aircraft systems

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee conducted a hearing today on the current state of research and development in the drone industry. The goal was to discuss with industry advocates how best to safely integrate this new class of flying craft into our national airspace.

For the most part it was your typical C-SPAN fare, with a lot of lengthy soliloquies on what drones are, what they can do, and how to make flying them safer. But to give our elected officials some perspective, Colin Guinn, senior vice president of sales at 3D Robotics, gave his presentation while a Parrot Bebop drone flew beside him. "We had to get permission to fly a drone in the committee room as well," said Chairman Lamar Smith. "So the rules are still pretty strict."

It wasn't much of a demonstration, but it got the point across. A number of representatives broke into smiles and voiced the opinion that drones could be useful for work in agriculture, disaster relief, and natural resource management. That would mean jobs: something every politician likes to stump for. "I was hoping you would fly over the whole room, not just one location," said Smith, after the Bebop landed.

"Well, you said no haircuts!" replied Guinn.

"I said no haircuts earlier, but you could have done it," Smith finished, grinning from ear to ear.