US to allow small drones to fly over people and at night

Small drones will be allowed to fly over people and at night in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Monday, an important step toward its use for widespread commercial deliveries.

The FAA said its long-awaited rules for the drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, would address safety issues by requiring, in most cases, required identification technology to enable their identification from the ground up.

Previously, small drone operations on humans were limited to operations on people directly involved in the operation, located under a covered structure or in a stationary vehicle – unless the operator obtained a waiver from the FAA.

The rules come into force 60 days after they were published in the federal registry in January. Drone manufacturers have 18 months to start manufacturing remote-controlled drones, and operators have an extra year to provide remote ID.

There are other, more complicated rules that allow night operations and in some cases for larger drones for humans.

“The new rules make way for the further integration of drones into our airspace by paying attention to safety and security,” said Steve Dickson, FAA administrator. “They bring us closer to the day when we will see more frequent routine surgeries, such as package delivery.”

Companies rushed to create drone fleets to speed up deliveries. The United States has more than 1.7 million drone registrations and 203,000 FAA-certified remote pilots.

For night operations, the FAA said drones should be equipped with anti-collision lights. The final rules allow in some circumstances to work with moving vehicles.

Distance ID is required for all drones weighing 0.25 kg (0.25 kg) or more, but is required for smaller drones under certain conditions, such as flights over outdoor assemblies.

The new rules eliminate the requirement for drones to be connected to the Internet to send location data, but do so to broadcast remote ID messages via radio frequency broadcasts. Without the change, the use of drones in areas without internet access could be banned.

The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International said Remote ID would function as ” a digital number plate for drones … which will enable more complex operations ‘, while operations at night and people’ are important steps towards integrating drones into our national airspace. to make possible. . ”

As the rules were proposed for the first time in 2019, small drones are required to have no exposed rotating parts that will tear human skin.

United Parcel Service said in October 2019 that it had obtained the government’s first full approval to operate a drone service.

Last year, Alphabet’s Wing, a sister unit of search engine Google, was the first company to obtain U.S. airline licensing for a single-pilot drone operation.

In August, Amazon’s drone service received federal approval so the retailer could begin testing commercial deliveries through its drone fleet.

Walmart said in September it would launch a pilot project for the delivery of groceries and household products using automated drones, but acknowledged that it would take some time before millions of packages per drone were seen.