In the not-too-distant future, Amazon could use a drone to deliver a package from a country warehouse all the way to … a nearby farm. And that, the government said on Tuesday, is about it. The Obama administration green-lit commercial drone flights but said it wasn't ready to let Google and Amazon launch automated drone delivery fleets out across urban areas. The regulations mark the government's first explicit efforts to define the commercial uses for the horde of small, plastic, buzzing aircraft that are invading America's skies. The Federal Aviation Administration said commercial drones are OK so long as the drone and its payload weigh less than 55lb, stay within unaided sight of the pilot and operators pass a test every two years.
There have been concerns from different quarters regarding the safety of drones and their uses, with different voices having contributed to this debate. There is a consensus, however, that there is need for policing and regulating policies to ensure that drones do not expose people and countries to danger. Last year, an unmanned autonomous vehicle was spotted flying towards a passenger airplane flight 366 causing different groups to come together and work with the industry, the White House and various universities to develop rules and regulations on the use of drones. And while these rules and regulations are necessary, stakeholders also agree that it is crucial to provide a policy for drone technology in the national air space. "There's tremendous personal responsibility, and you need to educate yourself before you open the box and start to operate an airframe like this," Keith Kaplan, CEO of Tesla Foundation and representative of UAV System Association, was quoted as saying.
Railway operators are concerned about the rail tracks, trains and are using UAV's to create an aerial plan of all trees within 60 meters of track, comprising hotspots which include mature trees. Earlier to keep the track and lines clear, a number of branches leaves and trees have already been cleared off. But if the trains are at an imminent risk, then clearing off the trees would take place. "Tree pruning and felling should be avoided at this time of year to avoid harming birds, and if it's emergency work for urgent safety reasons, then, of course, it needs to be done. Getting everyone home safe every day is our top priority," says one of the RSPB's spokesmen.
According to ten (ten!) sources familiar with the matter, Zee.Aero has developed a pair of prototype aircraft which it tests regularly. It has a facility close to a runway in Hollister in southern California, where locals claim to have seen weird craft hovering overhead. The report describes them as plane-like vehicles, with propellers in the rear -- one small enough for a single person, the other seemingly more capacious. Last year, website LongTailPipe found a patent detailing the firm's thinking, with rotor blades lining a plane-style cockpit. As top-secret as the project is, Zee.Aero engineers have been known to show off their skills, breaking the cruising record for unpowered flight at the 2013 Red Bull Flugtag.
With backing from big broadcasters like ESPN and Sky Sports, drone racing is already making its mark on TV. The Drone Racing League's (DRL) inaugural five race season is now two races deep, having visited Miami and Los Angeles, but the company is already thinking ahead to next year's championship. After revealing that the UK would host its first professional drone race in 2017 back in September, the DRL today confirmed that the winner-takes-all season finale will be hosted at London's iconic Alexandra Palace on June 13th. Professional drone racing, if you're not aware, sees pilots compete in four "level" events that they hope will earn them enough points to qualify for the World Championship. Each racer is given a selection of custom-designed drones, which are crafted by DRL to ensure races focus on skill and not construction smarts, which beam back a first-person live feed to a VR-style headset.