The Washington Times - September 28, 2012, 11:35AM

A bipartisan duo of U.S. senators has formed a drone caucus, saying they feel the need to help educate themselves and their colleagues on the issues surrounding unmanned aerial vehicles.

“Federal policies and legislation relating to unmanned systems are still in its infancy and concerns of the platforms need to be addressed,” said Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, who along with Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, formed the caucus, officially known as the Senate Unmanned Aerial Systems Caucus.

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“This caucus will help develop and direct responsible policy to best serve the interests of U.S. national defense and emergency response, and work to address any concerns from senators, staff and their constituents,” Mr. Inhofe said.

Many members of Congress were surprised to learn that a bill they passed earlier this year had cleared the way by 2015 for use of drones in U.S. airspace currently reserved for piloted aircraft.

In the wake of that bill, some news reports said that could mean tens of thousands of drones flying — though government officials have disputed those numbers.

The House of Representatives has had a drone caucus for three years, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a trade group for the drone industry, which said the Senate caucus is a welcome addition.