3D Robotics


This sounds like good news, but we'll have to see the details to know for sure. From Bloomberg:

U.S. aviation regulators said they are considering a streamlined approval process for flights of small unmanned drones for film making, utilities inspections, farming and other low-risk operations.

With the first regulation allowing commercial drone flights at least a year away, the Federal Aviation Administration is looking at ways to grant approvals for limited applications before then, said Jim Williams, chief of the agency’s unmanned aircraft division. The FAA is already fielding requests, he said in a speech in Orlando, Florida, today.

While such flights aren’t yet permitted, businesses have already been using drones to film sporting events, promote real estate and map land. Industries including agriculture, film making and inspections of utilities and oil and gas facilities have now approached the agency and are considering asking for a formal process for expedited approvals to fly, Williams said.

It expects to propose a rule allowing commercial drones weighing less than 55 pounds (25 kilograms) by November, according to a schedule of rulemaking efforts.

Read the rest here

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  • Based on my own experience dealing with government bureaucracies, don't believe a word this guys says, number 1, and number 2, don't for a second believe that it will all be ok.  Take for example, ITAR.  If you read up on ITAR you'll find something ominous known as the USML or US Munitions List.  This is the document that categorizes everything that's considered a "controlled" item.  If you think "Oh, that's just for guns, tanks, and planes," think again.  It was purposely designed to cover pretty much everything.  If they wanted to make a federal case out of you, they could.  That's by design.  That's not to say that you can't export some ITAR controlled widget.  You can.  But first you have to cough up roughly $2500 per year for the privilege of asking for permission to export.  Then you have to wade through their byzantine paperwork.  And then you wait.  Sometimes six weeks for the export license.  And the "rules" aren't really codified well.  They are subject to interpretation.  By them.  Even if you got an export license once before and though "Hey, I'll just plug in all the same information that I did last time," whoever happens to be reviewing your case that day could reject it.  You'll say "But that's the way I did it last time."  Their response will be "Well, you got lucky."  Oh, and btw, if they decide that some finished product is to be controlled, then everything that went into it is now also controlled even a little bolt you bought at Home Depot.

    So what does this have to do with the FAA and DIY drones for commercial or non-commercial uses?  I envision the following: You will be able to use your drone for these purposes BUT you will have to pay an annual registration fee to the FAA which will be several thousand dollars per year.  Then every time you want to fly, you will have to submit a request to them which they will "consider" for several weeks or months depending on their backlog and supposed sequestration-induced manpower shortages.  Imagine Texas EquuSearch having to deal with this when some 5-year old kid goes missing.

  • Moderator

    @Rob I don't understand he did announce the low risk use at sUSB Expo what is worrying is that Lockheed Martin said they had sold their entire first run of multirotors to farmers at the military show. That's STANAG ticked off secure C2 link multirotors.

  • They couldn't logically manage their way out of a wet paper bag. But it isn't just the FAA.  That is government in general.  And somehow they think making government bigger will make that better.....

  • November is probably when the FAA expect their appeal with Trappy to be turned down and they will need to respond with something asap.

    I find it funny how they didn't announce this at SUAS Expo last week but waited until the more DOD backed AUVSI conference.

  • Gary, for the sub-400-feet-away-from-airports operations I don't believe any revamping of any existing laws (let alone new ones) is needed, in most local jurisdictions. It is just about impossible to come up with any sort of misuse that isn't already covered. If anything, some local authorities may get too trigger-happy with what's already on the books. But in general we can live with that.   


  • Pretty much agree with Oliver, existing law pretty much covers any liability criminal and civil from low altitude UAS use already.

    It will no doubt need a bit of revamping, but as long as we are not in navigable airspace and reasonable rules are in place, all the FAA is serving to do right now is ruining it for everybody.

    They are nothing but a spoiler.

    I am afraid from their standpoint all they are trying to do is keep a lid on it until they can make it go away altogether.

  • Gary wrote: "Basically, below 400 feet for UAVs smaller than a certain size and a fixed distance away from an airport a separate agency should be in charge that is completely unaffiliated with the FAA."

    Yep, and wonder of wonders, this already exists and actually works quite well most of the time. It's called your local police department and is skilled in dealing with reckless/dangerous behavior, invasion of privacy, trespassing, and so on, using exiting laws. This in turn is backed up by civil courts, where any victims of violations can seek compensation. This radical and apparently unknown-to-the-FAA system is perfectly capable of absorbing all sorts of new toys and technologies. For a demonstration, rip through a strange neighborhood's back yards with your high-perfomance camera-equipped r/c race car and study the list of charges you'll collect.

  • @Pedals2Paddles: ROTFL!!  "...some guy taking pictures of a corn husk..." Classic, brilliant! 

  • Ya some guy taking pictures of a corn husk or looking for a missing toddler is totally a threat to the safety of the world.  But flying around bottles of booze hundreds of feet up in the air for thousands of dollars, that will no doubt be ok.

  • Let's see if the FAA goes after some of the sorts of people they instinctively ass-nuzzle:

    The filthy rich now have champagne ‘drone’ service

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