Politics & Government

Drones proposal hits snag as Macon-Bibb officials table resolution

A proposal to bring drones to Macon-Bibb County hit a snag Tuesday as commissioners voted to table a resolution until more details come in.

Several county officials who voted to table the memorandum of understanding resolution said they were excited about the technology but had reservations about the potential $5.7 million project. A representative of Olaeris, the manufacturer of the unmanned aerial system, has described Macon as a potential regional hub for drones responding to emergencies and natural disasters.

“I don’t feel like the commission has done its due diligence on the project, and it’s a lot of money that we don’t know where it’s coming from,” Commissioner Mallory Jones said.

Some commissioners said they were hesitant since it’s tough to predict the constraints of a future budget when it might be two years before the county is paying for drones.

A contract would still need to be agreed upon to obligate the city-county to pay for the project even if the memorandum of understanding gets approved, said Mayor Robert Reichert.

Any contract could not be approved until details are finalized.

The drones would need to receive approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, a process estimated to take 16-24 months.

Representatives from Olaeris and Haeco, a $2 billion aviation company, gave a presentation to county leaders last week answering questions about the time frame of the project and safety concerns. The five-year contract would cost $96,000 a month.

The drones, which would be the size of a king-size mattress and reach 100 mph, would be placed in locations where they could get anywhere in the county within 90 seconds to several minutes, according to Olaeris.

The drones could be used on calls for burglaries, robberies, hostage situations and fires. Olaeris estimates that for every $1 spent on their drones, a government will save $6-8 of manpower.

To contact writer Stanley Dunlap, call 744-4623

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.