Legislation passed by the U.S. Senate could pave the way for the commercial deployment of drones in the national airspace, besides addressing safety issues by, for example, providing for a pilot that would find ways to lock down errant drones if they are close to airports. The new rules in the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016, passed Tuesday by a vote of 95-3, reflect the opportunities seen in the country for the use of drones both for commercial and other applications such as in emergencies. They also highlight privacy and safety concerns about the reckless use of consumer drones by hobbyists. Referring to an object, believed to be a drone, hitting a British Airways plane landing in Heathrow airport on Sunday, Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida, said that if a drone is sucked into a jet engine, it could certainly render the engine inoperable and might start an explosion. The current bill proposes a pilot program to develop and test technologies to intercept or shut down drones when they are near airports.
Drones are flown at a training class in Las Vegas in anticipation of new regulations allowing their commercial use. Drones are flown at a training class in Las Vegas in anticipation of new regulations allowing their commercial use. We are in "one of the most dramatic periods of change in the history of transportation," says Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. He was talking about all of it: the self-driving cars, the smart-city movement, the maritime innovations. The Federal Aviation Administration expects some 600,000 drones to be used commercially within a year.
The skies are about to get substantially more populated with drones. They won't deliver packages to your doorstep anytime soon, but a large menu of other kinds of commercial drone missions will become legal on Monday thanks to new federal rules. The guidelines also make it much simpler to become a commercial drone pilot, lowering the barrier of entry for people and companies to use unmanned aircraft commercially. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's new drone regulations limit commercial operations to relatively low-risk scenarios. The aircraft must weigh less than 55 pounds, remain below 400 feet, and cannot fly beyond the operator's visual line of sight, at night, or directly over crowds of people.
Equipped with a state-of-the-art thermal camera, the drone crisscrossed the field, scanning it for cool, soggy patches where a gopher may have chewed through the buried drip irrigation line and caused a leak. In the drought-prone West, where every drop of water counts, California farmers are in a constant search for ways to efficiently use the increasingly scarce resource. Pictured above, Danny Royer, vice president of technology at Bowles Farming Co., prepares to pilot a drone over a tomato field near Los Banos, Calif. Farmers say leak-detecting drones can help save massive amounts of water. The video camera is paired up with a smartphone or computer tablet, which is used to control the drone.
A Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that was passed by the Senate on Wednesday has excluded key privacy provisions, including a requirement that commercial and government users of drones must disclose if they collect personally identifiable information of a person. The bill, which is a compromise short-term extension to ensure continued funding at current levels to the FAA, was passed by the Senate and goes to President Barack Obama to be signed into law, two days before the current authorization is to expire. It was earlier passed by the House of Representatives. But Senator Edward J. Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts and a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, on Wednesday said that the new bill, called the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016, was "a missed opportunity." It does not include drone privacy provisions that he authored and were included in the Senate version of the FAA reauthorization bill that passed in April this year, the senator said in a statement.