U.S. To Allow Small Drones To Fly Over People At Night

The United States will allow small drones to fly over people during the night, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday (December 28).

The FAA’s decision to allow at-night operations marks a significant advancement in the use of drones for commercial deliveries. Among the new rules for unmanned aerial vehicles include a focus on security concerns by requiring Remote ID technology that enables drone identification from the ground as well as anti-collision lights for nighttime operations. Another change will require small drones to not have open rotating parts that could slash human skin.

Once published in the federal register in January, these rules will take effect 60 days later.

Unless permitted by the FAA, overhead small drone operations were previously restricted to operations over people who were directly participating in the operation under a covered structure or from inside a stationary vehicle.

With that, drone manufactures will have 18 months to start generating drones with Remote ID, with operators having an additional year to provide Remote ID.

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

The Remote ID technology will be an advancement from requirements that drones be connected to the internet to transmit location data as drone use could have been barred from use in areas without internet access.

According to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, this identification technology, required for all drones weighing 0.55 lbs or more, will function as “a digital license plate for drones ... that will enable more complex operations” whereas overhead nighttime operations “are important steps towards enabling integration of drones into our national airspace.”

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