US FAA defines regulations for UAV or unmanned drones, basically green-signaling remote, fleet deliveries

FAA Regulations Drone
US FAA regulations for drone operations opens up the skies for fleet delivery. Pic credit: Thomas Ehrhardt/Pixabay

The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has essentially opened the floodgate to drone fleet deliveries with relaxed regulations for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). Under the new rules, drone operators will be able to fly drones over people and even at night.

The US FAA has significantly relaxed the current regulations pertaining to drone operations. The agency has essentially allowed drone operators free reign of the US skies as long the drone can be remotely tagged and identified using Remote ID, and have the relevant legal clearance.

FAA claims to address security concerns with UAV or drones with Remote ID:

The new regulations from the US FAA will require remote identification technology or Remote ID. The tech essentially ensures these miniature yet powerful unmanned flying machines can be identifiable from the ground. The FAA claims Remote ID will address security concerns and make drones easier to track.

The present FAA regulations pertaining to drone flying are quite strict and essentially prohibitive. While there are many restrictions, one of them specifically prevents drones from flying over people who are not actually controlling them. Moreover, the FAA doesn’t permit any commercial or privately-owned drone from flying after sunset.

Legally speaking, the regulation, currently limits drones to flights over people who were directly participating in the operation, under a covered structure, or inside a stationary vehicle. However, the FAA does hold the authority of relaxing the rules for specific drone operations. But prior written permission or FAA waiver is mandatory.

Is FAA opening the US skies for commercial drone fleet deliveries?

The significantly relaxed FAA regulations for drone operations will take effect 60 days after publication in the federal register in January. Drone manufacturers will have 18 months to begin producing drones with Remote ID. Meanwhile, operators will have an additional year to provide Remote ID.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson issued a statement. “The new rules make way for the further integration of drones into our airspace by addressing safety and security concerns. They get us closer to the day when we will more routinely see drone operations such as the delivery of packages.”

It is even more interesting to note that the new FAA regulations for drone operations permit the UAV to fly over ordinary, uninvolved people, as well as at nighttime. These relaxations are, obviously, limited in scope and applicability, and that too for certain individuals and companies.

Needless to add, the new FAA regulations for drone operations clearly suggest the United States is welcoming deliveries by drone fleets. Many companies, large and small, have long shown keen interest in employing drones to make last-mile deliveries.

The United States has over 1.7 million registered drones or UAVs, and 203,000 FAA-certificated remote pilots. While these are the official numbers, the actual figures of hobbyists and recreational drone operators should be way higher.

The key aspect that opens up the US skies for drones is undoubtedly the mandatory Remote ID technology. ‘Remote ID’ is mandatory for all drones weighing 0.55 lb (0.25 kg) or more. While there are few, even smaller drones would require the tech.

The Remote ID does away with an internet connection on the drone. However, drones must broadcast remote ID messages via radio frequency broadcast. The tech is dubbed as the “digital license plate for drones.”

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