Consumer Watchdog recently asked NASA to stop a special deal the US space agency has with Google, testing unmanned drones over private land. The NASA-Google deal gives Google an unfair advantage over competitors, and taxpayers are left out in the dark, according to the watchdog group.
The Google X Lab and the company's other subsidiaries benefit as Google is testing if cell phone signals can be used for drone air traffic control services. Under current US federal laws, domestic commercial operation of drones isn't allowed - and all drones must be operated by licensed pilots, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) dictates.
"NASA should suspend this special arrangement with Google immediately - before new test runs start over Merced, California, pending an explanation about how this technology benefits taxpayers and the federal government itself," said Liza Tucker, a Consumer Advocate, in a statement to NASA Inspector General Paul Martin.
"The benefits are currently unclear, and taxpayers have a right to be concerned as this is not the first time that Google has abused taxpayers, advancing commercial technology at their expense."
The full letter is available here.