New Federal Regulations Would Require Drones to Be Tracked

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There have already been problems with drones interfering with airplanes in their shared air space, and it can only get worse with drones becoming more popular and some retail outlets considering delivery options with drones.

The United States government thinks they know how to solve that. New federal regulations were proposed that would require drones to broadcast tracking signals, allowing their locations to be identified, as well as their operators.

Proposed Federal Regulations for Drones

The Federal Aviation Administration’s plan to track drones would mostly only apply to drones used in business, as the regulations wouldn’t apply to devices under 0.55 pounds. The intention is for tighter security and to prevent terrorist attacks, according to the agency.

“Remote ID technologies will enhance safety and security by allowing the FAA, law enforcement, and federal security agencies to identify drones flying in their jurisdiction,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

FAA officials added that as a precaution to enforce security, the tracking technology would be required for drones to operate. If the technology were to be “disabled,” drones would be unable to take off.

Some major retailers are interested in using drones for their delivery services. Amazon has discussed it for some time. Just last month UPS worked along with CVS pharmacies to deliver medical prescriptions via drones.

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Congress asked the FAA to provide regulations for identifying and tracking drones three years ago, seeing them as “a fast-growing segment of the entire transportation section.” Nearly 1.5 million drones and 160,000 remote pilots are already currently registered.

Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International head Brian Wynne believes the proposed regulations will lead to greater airspace safety and security.

“The importance of remote ID regulations cannot be overstated, as they are necessary to enable advanced and expanded operations such as flights over people and beyond line of sight,” he said.

The FAA wrote in its proposal that the “ability to identify ad locate” drones “provides critical information to law enforcement and other officials charged with ensuring public safety. … This information could be used to distinguish compliant airspace users from those potentially posing a safety or security risk.”

Benefits of Regulations

The agency added that along with safety and security, implementing this technology would save money for them and law enforcement, as they won’t have as many drone-related incidents to investigate and will be provided with better information for when it does investigate.

With safety, security, and income as the benefits at play here with these regulations, should the FAA act on this? Or is this somewhere the government does not need to intervene? Tell us in the comments below.

One comment

  1. “The intention is for tighter security and to prevent terrorist attacks, according to the agency.”
    Makes for good sound bite. However, in reality, even a drone 0.55 pounds or smaller can cause a plane crash if ingested by a plane engine. How many plane crashes have been cause by small birds being sucked into jet engines?

    “With safety, security, and income as the benefits at play here with these regulations, should the FAA act on this?”
    Most definitely! For what it’s worth. HOWEVER, the benefits are more wishful thinking rather than reality.

    HOW will the FAA be able to effectively enforce the rules pertaining to drones? Drones, even large ones, are much smaller than even private airplanes. While they may be tracked on radar, once drones land they can be easily hidden, disassembled and carted away to another location before the authorities get mobilized.

    Safety and Security – Anybody can put up an unregistered drone with no transponder from anywhere, accomplish whatever purpose they have in mind, retrieve the drone and be quickly gone. The situation with drones is analogous to that with guns. This past summer police in the New York City suburbs arrested a plastic surgeon with at least 5 guns in his car. They found 20 more guns when they searched his house. None of the guns were registered or licensed. The guy did not have a gun permit. NY State has a set of one of the toughest gun-control laws in the nation and yet the guy was able to accumulate an arsenal. He was not a criminal. He was not planning to resell the guns. He just liked to own guns. What about the various criminal groups? Where are they getting their guns? My point is that drones are easy to obtain, easy to operate, easy to hide and very hard to police.

    Income – To oversee all the legal drones the FAA will have to hire hundreds more air traffic controllers. Somebody will have to investigate and prosecute the misuse of drones which means hundreds, if not thousands of additional personnel. So much for the new rules saving money. Beside, every time the government promulgates new rules and regulations, it sets up a bureaucracy to administer them and we all know that the government never does anything small. Reminds me of the old joke about “What is definition of an elephant?” the answer – “A mouse built to government specifications.”

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