According to the Wall Street Journal, the FAA is expected to announce rules that would allow the use of unmanned vehicles for commercial purposes. The rules, “according to people familiar with the rule-making process,” would require operators of unmanned vehicles to “have a license and limit flights to daylight hours, below 400 feet and within sight of the person at the controls.”
As for the license itself, don’t expect getting one to be too easy. The Journal reports that the one “likely to be proposed by the FAA would typically require dozens of hours flying manned aircraft.” A lot like a pilot’s license.
The rules are strict, but they would finally allow the use of unmanned vehicles for commercial purposes, at least legally. Though many have begun using UAVs for commercial purposes already, these rules would fully legalize the act.
Surprisingly, the FAA may group together all unmanned vehicles under 55lbs, which means that no tiny little rotocopters will be sneaking in under the weight limit. This is not necessarily bad news for our marketplace, however. For one, most uses of a UAV for aerial imaging are perfectly compatible with the rules.
An added benefit: as many media outlets are reporting, this grouping would severely limit the ability of big companies like Amazon or Google to follow through with their large-scale delivery schemes. This means they can’t launch a swarm of little drones into the sky to carry packages.
Though these rules would finally define the use of UAVs for commercial use, none of the sources SPAR found reported on any rules regarding the protection of privacy or the use of personal drones. With those particular legal vacuums still left open–and given some high-profile near-misses–it’s only a matter of time before this great news about commercial UAVs is followed by some very bad news about personal drones.