One step closer to the drone postmen

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In the United States, small drones are allowed to fly at night and even over humans, a major advance in the mass adoption of drone technology, such as parcel delivery.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced Monday that it will soon introduce new regulations that will allow unmanned aircraft to be identified from the ground using remote technology without safety concerns. Federal rules requiring remote identification will take effect sixty days after their promulgation in January. Manufacturers will have one and a half years after the rules are introduced to make their drones capable of remote identification, and drone suppliers will have an additional one year to defer. Regulations have also been made for the flying of drones at night and over people’s heads. Until now, a small drone could only fly over people who were involved in flying that drone and were in a covered building or a stationary vehicle. Steve Dickson, head of the FAA, told Reuters that the new regulations will allow drones to become even more part of aviation by responding to safety and security concerns. Dickson said the rules “are getting closer to the day when we can see drone operations more regularly, such as parcel delivery.”

Remote identification will be mandatory for all drones heavier than a quarter pound. The new rules do not require drones to be constantly connected to the Internet to transmit their location data, they must use a radio frequency to identify them. This allows them to fly in areas where there is no or inadequate internet coverage. According to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the remote identifier will work as a kind of digital license plate that will also allow drone operators to perform much more complex operations. For example, night flying, for which drones must be equipped with an anti-collision light system. An additional requirement will be that small drones do not have uncovered rotors that could cause harm to humans.

In the United States, more than 1.7 million drones have already been registered with the FAA and there are more than two hundred thousand registered drone pilots with official licenses. In 2019, UPS first received a government license to operate a drone fleet, and then Google’s subsidiary, Alphabet’s Wing, received approval to perform air transport with a drone. In August of this year, Amazon received a federal license to begin testing its drone fleet to ship its packages. Walmart announced in September this year that it will launch a pilot project.

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