The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will soon release new rules on the use of drones in the U.S., and they might be more restrictive than the current ones, potentially making the use of a flying robot much more difficult.
Drone pilots will need a license, will only be able to fly during the day, and can only operate below 400 feet, and in the operator’s line of sight, according to a Wall Street Journal report published on Monday. The FAA is reportedly also going to group all unmanned aerial vehicles — regardless of weight or size — under these rules, meaning that flying a small toy drone will be subject to the same restrictive rules as flying a bigger commercial one.
The drone licenses are likely to require “dozens of hours” flying traditional aircrafts, the WSJ reports citing anonymous sources with knowledge of the rule-making process. In other words, forget about buying a drone at Best Buy and flying it on your own for any commercial purpose. These restrictive rules will also affect companies like Amazon or Google, which have been long working on delivery drones.
If what is being reported is right, Amazon and Google won’t be delivering packages. #dronerules
— Ryan Calo (@rcalo) November 24, 2014
As we have reported before, drones fly in a murky legal area right now, and the FAA is expected to issue new rules before the end of the year.
The nascent drone industry, as well as the large cadre of UAVs aficionados, probably won’t like these rules. Although it’s important to stress that the FAA hasn’t published any rules yet, and the details could still change before then. Moreover, these rules will just be a proposal, meaning they will still need to go through a public commenting period, after which the FAA will issue the final rules based on the feedback from the public and stakeholders. All in all, it could take one or two years until the final regulations are issued.
The FAA declined to comment on the report.
“Sorry, but we can’t discuss specifics of the upcoming proposed rule,” FAA spokesman Les Door told Mashable. “We can say that the proposed regulations and standards will make a start toward broader commercial use of UAS.”
BONUS: An animated history of drones