Drone Technology in 2015: Will it be a Major Topic of Political Discussion?
Earlier this year, Amazon unveiled their plan to make deliveries by drone in the near future. Met with concerns from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), who have yet to give a final answer on their guidelines for drone technology Amazon stepped back to focus on other avenues.
The FAA plans to release their guidelines soon, but some business owners, big and small, worry about their future in anticipation of negative rulings.
According to various reports, commercial drone technology will be regulated, to some extent, by the United States government in 2015.
The FAA attempted to make a set of ‘drone rules’ by the end of 2014 due to pilots being concerned about drones and manned aircrafts colliding; however, they have yet to make any sort of rules public yet. According to reports from industry officials off-the-record, rules will likely be proposed by the end of January but regulations wouldn’t be finalized for two or three more years.
Jesse Kallman, the head of regulatory affairs for Airware, a drone technology company backed by Google Ventures, said:
We need some sort of process that allows some of the low-risk operations. I think Congress understands that, and hopefully they’ll take steps in the coming year to address that.
Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said at a hearing this month:
We in Congress are very interested in UAS [unmanned aerial systems]. We understand UAS are an exciting technology with the potential to transform parts of our economy. … It is our responsibility to take a close look.
Drone Regulations Affecting Business Owners
The current FAA regulations allow American citizens to fly small drones for hobbyist, recreational uses. Hobbyists can fly drones up to 400 feet above ground as long as they are five miles from any airport.
In an interview with Atlanta-based news source 11 Alive, president of Atlanta Hobby Cliff Whitney, spoke about the warped perceptions of drones.
They expect some big Predator with cruise missiles hanging off of it. That’s now what we have here.
Whitney is also the founder of UAV Experts, a company that builds and operates drones designed to solve challenges for farmers, ranchers, police, photography and motion picture studios. He added:
It’s [drones] vastly enabled the photography industry. A real-estate person needs to showcase their property better, both with video and with still images. You have the agricultural industry; if I can take a farmer that has four square miles of corn and help him increase his yield by telling him where he needs more fertilizer or less, they’re doing it from aircrafts just like these.
As of November though, the National Transportation Saftey Board (NTSB) ruled that the FAA is allowed to regulate small aircrafts normally considered hobbyist vehicles. Kenneth Quinn, a former FAA general counsel, told NBC News:
It’s a huge win for the FAA, and signals it’s not going to be the Wild West for drones, but a careful, orderly, safe introduction of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.
Images from Wikimedia Commons and Shutterstock.