After years of struggling to write rules that would both protect public safety and free the benefits of a new technology, the White House released on Tuesday that new rules for drones to keep it from colliding during flight and mostly aimed for the safety of people.
The Federal Aviation Administration has created a new category of rules for drones weighing less than 55 pounds. The long-anticipated rules mean drone operators would be able to fly without special permission.
Since 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration has granted more than 6,100 waivers and another 7,600 are waiting for approval. Many small companies have been using drones without Federal Aviation Administration permission.
“Drones are essentially aerial robots,” said Ed Felten, deputy chief technology officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “These are much more than flying cameras. It’s still a nascent technology.”
Drones will be used to monitor traffic, search for the missing and police suspects, help control the flow of movement at big construction and agricultural sites, maintain surveillance over closely guarded locations, collect video at athletic events and during breaking news events and provide door-step package delivery.
Under new rules, operators must register their drones online and pass an aviation knowledge exam for drone pilots at Federal Aviation Administration authorized test center. That would give them a drone pilot certification for 24 months. This is considered a big change, since operators currently have to have a manned aircraft pilot’s license.
Operators must also present identification for a security vetting similar to that applied to general aviation pilots. Moreover, the new rules prevent delivery drones from flying across cities and suburbs clasping small packages, in part because that would entail flying over people.
The new set of rules are expected to be released this week. Sometime next month, another government industry advisory committee is expected to recommend safety standards to the Federal Aviation Administration for unmanned aircrafts at higher altitudes.