Secret Service officers search the grounds of the White House Monday.

Secret Service officers search the grounds of the White House Monday. Susan Walsh/AP

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Drone Crashes Onto South Lawn of the White House

A small unmanned aircraft crashed on the southeast side of the executive mansion Monday morning.

A small drone crashed at the White House complex early Monday morning, according to the Associated Press.

The Secret Service is currently investigating the apparent intrusion of a four-rotor quad copter, a commercially available small unmanned aircraft, that crashed on the southeast side of the White House.

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama are on a diplomatic trip to India and were in no way put at risk, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

Last year, the Secret Service became mired in scandal after multiple security breaches were reported on the White House grounds. In September, one man scaled the executive mansion's fence, sprinted across the lawn, and made it inside the building before being tackled by a Secret Service officer. Drone enthusiasts were quick to condemn the "clear misuse" of the nascent technology.

"This incident represents a clear misuse of [unmanned aerial systems] technology," said Brian Wynne, president of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a prominent drone lobby. "Flying any aircraft around the White House is a serious violation of the restricted and prohibited airspace in Washington, D.C. We hope the individual or individuals responsible are found and held accountable."

The Federal Aviation Administration has been tasked by Congress with reviewing drone technology and developing a road map for commercial drone integration into existing airspace, though policing of amateur drone use is largely left to local law enforcement.

The FAA has in recent months granted a growing number of exemptions to its current ban on commercial drone use, including for Hollywood studios and agricultural purposes. Earlier this month it granted a permit to CNN to use drones for journalistic activity.

Last week, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing on commercial drone use, which included a live drone demonstration for several awe-struck lawmakers.