By MICHAEL GERSTEIN
Capital News Service
LANSING – Amid a roiling national debate about U.S. military-targeted drone strikes abroad and privacy concerns at home, some higher education institutions in Michigan are seeking authorization to fly their own unmanned aircraft for testing and research. Public entities like universities and police departments need approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use unmanned aircraft outside of a lab, even when flying under 400 feet. Among them are the University of Michigan and Northwestern Michigan College. The FAA released an updated list of drone applicants – which included authorizations to fly for both schools – after a lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in San Francisco. But both U of M authorizations on the list have expired, said Ella Atkins, a professor of aerospace engineering.