In September, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department began a one-year pilot program that includes four camera-equipped drones. Despite urging from the ACLU that the Sheriff’s Department first seek input from the public and the County Board of Supervisors, it did neither.

San Diego companies are at the forefront of drone-related innovations and the industry expects to skyrocket once the FAA releases commercial flight rules. But a bad reputation and big ethical concerns could hold it back.

California drone advocates gathered Tuesday to rally behind the state’s drone industry and learn about potential roadblocks.

There’s a dearth of basic details on the scope of San Diego’s drone industry but there are a few key facts we already know.

San Diego boosters often say the region is a major center for unmanned systems. Still, no one seems to know just how many companies here work on drones, or how much money they pump into the local economy.

Drones have helped capture images of the Rim Fire and other big blazes. But so far, the images of the fires burning in San Diego County have come from hobbyists.