High flying drones available for checkout at University of South Florida library

USF students can borrow a drone at library

TAMPA - At the  University of Florida, libraries aren't just for books anymore. As part of an effort to make all kinds of technology available to students they're now providing camera mounted drones for check out.

Academic Services Director Nancy Cunningham says the lightweight remote controlled 'quadcopters' will be useful for students studying anything from engineering to environmental science.  

"For example in architecture, students could go over a structure and understand the various dimensions of it without having to look at drawings" said Cunningham.

One engineering student  who occasionally surveys solar power arrays is  intrigued.
 
"I think that might be cool.  I could use it" said Rachana Vidhi.

But another student in the actual library where they still keep the books is  skeptical.

"I'm pretty sure I would crash it somewhere  and cause some sort of of accident. I don't think this is a very good idea" said student Hermes Milanes.

Amazement at what these lightweight and maneuverable craft can do has been tempered by safety and privacy concerns. People are as often annoyed as amazed  at the eyes in the sky.  Hockey fans recently managed to knock a drone out of the air with a t-shirt  the Staples center in L.A. And at least one USF student even had concerns about inappropriate use of drones on campus.

"If somebody's using it for non school related stuff, creeping on other people. Just like you know lurking would possibly be my biggest fear" said Micaela Martinez.  
 
But  Nancy Cunningham says anyone checking out a drone will be thoroughly trained and supervised.

We're certainly not going to fly them near airports or military facility. You can't just take a drone, check it out and do whatever you want. They're going to be heavily controlled by our library staff.

The two camera drones purchased by the U.S.F. Library cost about a thousand dollars each.  And like all checked out video equipment, you break it, you bought it.

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