If you live outside of the United States, there is a good chance you aren't even thinking about this issue anymore, but here in America, the use of drones, UAVs, UASs, quadcopters, or whatever name you prefer (depending on what kind of flying vehicle it is), have been illegal for commercial usage -- though that hasn't stopped many from using them in that way. Right now they are legal for any non-commercial usage, but new rules coming this fall could expedite their legality for those wanting to use them on paid projects.
Here is a snippet from The Verge on this:
The new rule, which will be proposed in November, would allow commercial drones less than 55 pounds to be used in such activities as long as they were considered low risk to humans, structures, and other aircraft. Those approvals could come ahead of a larger reevaluation of FAA regulations covering small unmanned aircraft, expected sometime next year.
This issue has only gotten more heated as cheap UAVs have taken the industry by storm. The FAA was already planning on making rules for the use of smaller unmanned aerial vehicles by 2015, as it released this roadmap late last year, even though technically they were given permission by Congress to grant permits for commercial use back in 2012. This decision was bound to happen sooner or later, especially as the issue has been contested in court. Earlier this year, a federal administrative judge struck down a $10,000 fine from the FAA for drone usage, and stated that they were already legal because they should be considered "model aircraft."
It will be interesting to see how this permit process will work, and how long it will take to come into effect -- though the hope is that they have something in place by the end of the year. The hesitancy from the FAA is partially understandable, especially as people begin to use them more and more in populated areas. There is no question they can be extremely dangerous to both people on the ground, and other aircraft in the air, and as their popularity continues to increase, so will the accidents. The decision is certainly a step forward. Considering how much they can bring up the production values of a video for relatively little cost, it's great that we will finally have some solid rules about the legality of UAVs for commercial use.
- Speedier Commercial Drone-Flight Permits Possible by FAA -- Bloomberg
- FAA Releases Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Roadmap -- FAA
- Judge strikes down fine against drone photographer -- DPReview
[via The Verge]