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Government United States

NBC News Reports US Will Require Registration For Consumer Drones (nbcnews.com) 235

Gizmodo and Engadget are both reporting (and both pointing to a report at NBC News) that the Department of Transportation is expected to announce Monday a plan to regulate drone use in the U.S., based on fears of danger to aviation. From the relied-on report at NBC News: The federal government will announce a new plan requiring anyone buying a drone to register the device with the U.S. Department of Transportation, NBC news has learned. ... Under the plan, the government would work with the drone industry to set up a structure for registering the drones, and the regulations could be in place by Christmas. That sounds like an impossible task, if it's to take in all remote-controlled flying devices that might be described as drones. About this time last year, Chris Anderson (ex-Wired editor, and now head of 3D Robotics) estimated that about half a million drones had already been sold in the U.S., and that sounds like an undercount even for then, given the many cheap-and-cheerful options. From suppliers like Banggood, tiny quadcopters can now be had for less than $20, though it's hard to think of them as a danger to aviation.
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NBC News Reports US Will Require Registration For Consumer Drones

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  • Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 16, 2015 @10:30PM (#50748013)

    I'm going to be the rational minority in what will likely be a long, bloody thread, but I think this is a good move by the government. There were a few incidents, some in near my local airport where a drone came within the vicinity of operating aircraft. It sucks that a few bad apples ruined what would have been an enjoyable hobby, but it has to be regulated.

    • I guess I might wanna go out and buy at least ONE drone before they require registration of them....
    • Re:Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aaron4801 ( 3007881 ) on Friday October 16, 2015 @10:53PM (#50748093)
      OK, now define what's a drone and what's not.
      RC planes have for decades been exempted from other FAA rules, are they now caught up in all this?
      What about the micro-copters that can't fly outdoors if there's even a slight breeze?
      Treating a 30g copter with a 10m range the same as a 5kg copter with a 1km range will mean the death of whole industries that pose no threat to anybody.
      • Re:Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Friday October 16, 2015 @11:01PM (#50748129)

        RC planes have for decades been exempted from other FAA rules, are they now caught up in all this?

        In some places there have been strict rules on them for decades but sensible ones - a ceiling, restricted near airports and rules about line of sight. People using drones violating sensible rules is "why we can't have nice things" and how restrictive long lists of rules happen which I'll bet will rope in the RC planes as well.
        See also how idiots making a huge amount of noise about plastic gun parts are getting regulators busy over 3D printing.

        • There is also the issue that both Constitutionally and according to the Air Commerce Act which established it, the FAA only has authority over "navigable airways", which means commonly flown interstate routes, including the areas around airports.

          Also being a Federal agency, the Department of Transportation only has jurisdiction over similar situations: interstate travel, etc.

          Federal agencies don't have authority over all roads on the ground, nor all parts of the air. That's the way the Federal governm
          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            With respect, they have dominion over absolutely everything that the constitution does not forbid and there has been a bit of an inroad into some of those areas as well.
            • They have dominion over absolutely everything the commerce clause can be stretched to cover.

              You have the constitution backwards. They can only do those things listed. All else is theoretically forbidden.

              Of course a liberal reading of the commerce clause and bang goes limited government.

              • by dbIII ( 701233 )

                You have the constitution backwards. They can only do those things listed. All else is theoretically forbidden.

                How naive can you get?

              • This is an argument nearly as old as the Constitution of the United States itself.

                You need to read about Alexander Hamilton and the question of the constitutionality of the First Bank of the United States.

      • Re:Good. (Score:4, Informative)

        by nmb3000 ( 741169 ) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Friday October 16, 2015 @11:55PM (#50748295) Journal

        Treating a 30g copter with a 10m range the same as a 5kg copter with a 1km range will mean the death of whole industries that pose no threat to anybody.

        Exactly.

        I have no problem with trying to put some safety measures in place to prevent some catastrophic accidents or serious injury to bystanders, but trying to impose a mindless blanket regulation for everything is simply the wrong way to govern.

        This toy [amazon.com] is not the same and should not be regulated the same as this quadcopter [amazon.com].

        Current aviation regulations are filled with rules that apply based various criteria. The type of aircraft, the weather, the number of passengers, the geographical location, the time of day, etc, etc. The rules are not there to stifle -- they are applied as needed where appropriate. Regulation of consumer items such as RC airplanes and quadcopters should be handled the same way.

    • Bull (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Friday October 16, 2015 @11:38PM (#50748233)

      I'm going to be the rational minority in what will likely be a long, bloody thread, but I think this is a good move by the government. There were a few incidents, some in near my local airport where a drone came within the vicinity of operating aircraft. It sucks that a few bad apples ruined what would have been an enjoyable hobby, but it has to be regulated.

      I agree it's a good move, but it's not really about a danger to aviation so much as about terrorism. Drones are almost as good as self-driving cars would be at allowing suicide bombers to blow things up without the need for suicide. Small payload, but can still be turned into a flying death machine, and very common. If you require registration, not only do you have a better chance at tracking the owner of a drone, but you can do more to run the owners through watch lists and add drone ownership as another weight in an equation or neural net that is trying to spot people the government needs to worry about.

      I know there are privacy issues, but if you were in charge of antiterrorism efforts, you'd be crazy not to want this.

      • Re:Bull (Score:5, Interesting)

        by thinkwaitfast ( 4150389 ) on Saturday October 17, 2015 @12:54AM (#50748443)
        There are youtube channels [youtube.com] that show you how to build a plane capable of carrying a few kg for of $3 of parts purchased from the dollar store. It only takes a few minutes and $100 of electronics [hobbyking.com].
        • There are youtube channels that show you how to build a plane capable of carrying a few kg for of $3 of parts purchased from the dollar store. It only takes a few minutes and $100 of electronics.

          While you're correct, you're spending your money in the wrong place if you buy that TX. You want the HK-T6A [hobbyking.com]. That way you will have some money left over from your $100 to get on eBay and pick up a motor, prop, and ESC, as well as some super-cheap servos. And if you have a smartphone with USB OTG to program it with in the field you can get a good flight controller board for $13, and with a $15 GPS module you've made a plane into a drone for around $30. I went ahead and spent $20 on a FC with a display on it

        • And this is why I fear that parts suppliers like HK are going to end up on a hit list eventually.

          Trying to regulate radio controlled models is going to be about as hard as regulating any other dirt cheap consumer technology. For the regulation to be effective, it's going to have to be extremely heavy-handed. Then we'll end up in an endless cat-and-mouse game of workarounds.

          2-5 years from now your HobbyKing multirotor controller board will be sold as a generic robotics gyrostabilizer board, with no mention o

      • The programming has worked. You see drones as a potential vector for terrorism. Carry on citizen.

        Drones are almost as good as self-driving cars would be at allowing suicide bombers to blow things up without the need for suicide. Small payload, but can still be turned into a flying death machine, and very common.

        Leaving backpacks and pressure cookers laying around are effective death machines too. Shall we have registration for backpacks and pressure cookers too?

        If you require registration, not only do you have a better chance at tracking the owner of a drone, but you can do more to run the owners through watch lists and add drone ownership as another weight in an equation or neural net that is trying to spot people the government needs to worry about.

        I do not want to live in a jail cell to protect my freedom. All of these rules and surveillance are walls and bars restricting my freedoms. I would rather die than live in a jail cell.

      • by Agripa ( 139780 )

        I'm going to be the rational minority in what will likely be a long, bloody thread, but I think this is a good move by the government. There were a few incidents, some in near my local airport where a drone came within the vicinity of operating aircraft. It sucks that a few bad apples ruined what would have been an enjoyable hobby, but it has to be regulated.

        I agree it's a good move, but it's not really about a danger to aviation so much as about terrorism. Drones are almost as good as self-driving cars wou

    • I couldn't agree more. Although that doesn't mean the registration needs to be an onerous process.

    • Re:Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Saturday October 17, 2015 @01:24AM (#50748499)

      I'm going to be the rational minority in what will likely be a long, bloody thread, but I think this is a good move by the government. There were a few incidents, some in near my local airport where a drone came within the vicinity of operating aircraft. It sucks that a few bad apples ruined what would have been an enjoyable hobby, but it has to be regulated.

      I'm not seeing the rational part of your argument.

      Should people register their knives because a few bad apples use them to stab people to death? Keeping in mind it is already illegal to stab people to death and a whopping 1500 people a year die each and every year from stabbings.

      It is already illegal to fly drones within 5 miles of an airport. If you were rational wouldn't you use statistical evidence to inform your opinion rather than reacting to specific events and assume with no evidence registration will solve a problem? What is the expected benefit of registering drones? Of the people who are already illegally flying drones within 5 miles of an airport what good do you expect it will do?

      Should laser pointers be registered too? I'm sure that'll stop asshats from pointing them at planes... I'm sure of it...because it sounds rational to me.

      • The rational part of the argument is that registration has a higher probability of tracking down the culprit than no registration, and the examples would be guns and cars where there have been at least 1 case in which registration information helped.

        Just because we don't really know the stats in advance regarding what percentage of incidents will be prevented (due to fear of being caught) and/or incidents identified doesn't mean that it's an irrational attempt to reduce the problem.
      • by cdwiegand ( 2267 )

        Oddly enough, it takes too much time to murder 300+ people with a knife, but fly a drone right into an airplane's engine by accident and not only can you kill everyone on that plane, but people on the ground. Imagine if it went right into a hotel because it crashed as they lost control because your little toy broke their engine. Registration doesn't mean it's dead as a hobby - look at ham radio / amateur radio. We have licenses, we have to pay tests, the cost is MINIMAL even for someone on Social Security,

    • Yes, it's a natural step. I mean a few meatheads did bad things with guns and now look at the tight regulations there. Oh, wait....

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      And what's registration going to do? If somebody gets run over by my car, the license plate is not sufficient proof that I'm guilty of murder. Install a few triangulation beacons, find the source controlling the drone and send airport security/police out to arrest the guy. These are not covert bursts, they're constant transmissions that should be easy to find. Rather than come up with some crazy idea to register everyone with a $100 drone.

      • And what's registration going to do? If somebody gets run over by my car, the license plate is not sufficient proof that I'm guilty of murder. Install a few triangulation beacons, find the source controlling the drone and send airport security/police out to arrest the guy. These are not covert bursts, they're constant transmissions that should be easy to find.

        While it's not true for every drone, the majority of them are using 2.4 GHz spread spectrum radios now. It's easy to find them... amidst all the other 2.4 GHz spread spectrum transmitters. If someone's standing out in a field they'll be easy to find. If this happens, though, WiFi drones will just become more popular, because they'll be just one more WiFi signal. And then they will shit all over WiFi for everyone.

        • by khallow ( 566160 )

          If this happens, though, WiFi drones will just become more popular, because they'll be just one more WiFi signal. And then they will shit all over WiFi for everyone.

          Why would WiFi drones become popular enough to matter? Just how many people are going to be evading the law by buying WiFi drones who won't be evading the law by not registering their drones?

    • by khallow ( 566160 )

      I'm going to be the rational minority

      If I had a dime for every idiot on Slashdot who says stuff like that, I'd be able to buy Dice at its current inflated price by now.

      There were a few incidents

      Ok, so there weren't many incidents. You lost your argument since you can't show a compelling reason for the new regulation.

      It sucks that a few bad apples ruined what would have been an enjoyable hobby, but it has to be regulated.

      It's already over-regulated. It's not a rational mind set to conclude something isn't regulated merely because you can put more regulation on the activity.

      And the idea that we need to regulate things more because idiots is a train wreck in process. You w

    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      Unless this is registration in the form of the National Firearms Act of 1934 requiring registration of drones and GCA of 1986 banning the manufacturing of new drones for civilians and preventing the registration of old drones, how would just registration alone help?

  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Friday October 16, 2015 @10:31PM (#50748015)
    Much like everything in life, entitled morons do stupid things and everyone suffers.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by poetmatt ( 793785 )

      If the entitled are the bureacrats, then yes. The "stupid things" were called "being elected/appointed".

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      Much like everything in life, entitled morons do stupid things and everyone suffers.

      Well, yes. But that's what bureaucrats do. It's all they do.

      Now the trillion-dollar drone industry will develop outside America. Just another example of the country throwing its future away 'for the childrun!'

    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday October 17, 2015 @01:31AM (#50748521)

      I'm not sure how much of a problem there really is. I haven't researched it, but we don't hear much news on it so that leads me to wonder. Also an anecdotal story, but still: One of our students likes playing with drones and has a mid sized one with a camera. However, he lives near a military air base, and the airspace surrounding it is all controlled, as it is around any such installation. He doesn't want to get in trouble so he called them to try and obtain permission to fly his drone. ATC laughed and said given its size, they didn't care, if it was under 50 pounds they weren't concerned. They promised to talk to the base commander anyhow to try and get him permission, but felt it was a total non-issue.

      So who knows, this may be more of a politicians wanting to Do Something(tm) and attacking some problem that exists more in their heads than in the world, particularly since it is easy and low impact.

    • You are god damn right we are entitled, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US is entitled to enjoy Liberty.
  • Think of the Children!

    Terrorists!

    They're takin our Jerbs! Drones!

    Is there anything Americans aren't terrified of today?

    • Think of the Children!

      Terrorists!

      They're takin our Jerbs! Drones!

      Is there anything Americans aren't terrified of today?

      Looking down through the remarks here, it appears that one of the fearful is trying to assuage his fears by marking us all as trolls.

      Sorry - it doesn't work, muchacho. You're still one cold flash away from peeing your pants. That silly little parrot drone has you in a cold sweat.

      The right wing kook with his houseful of guns, the left wing asshole in their gated neighborhood, with their ADT protected house, and their safe room still don't feel safe, no matter what they do.

      Americans have turned panphob

  • Will I still have to register?

  • and/or nonsensical crap to scare rubes into voting Republican. Seriously, we don't even register guns in most places, you think we'll get drones registered? Then again, I could see businesses siding with this. Drone regulation is going to be important for several reasons. For example, put a camera on a drone and you can film a business pouring raw sewage into river water in violation of the law.

    Still, I'm guessing this is a non-starter. Might rile up the base a little bit though.
    • nonsensical crap to scare rubes into voting Republican

      Yeah, you know how NBC news is, always trying to get people to vote Republican. Are you even listening to yourself?

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        Ah, the myth, or more correctly the propaganda, claiming that the medial is "librul".

        NBC isn't liberal, It's just not raving conservative. It's a neat trick to label anything to left of Fox News as left wing, but it's also grossly manipulative.

        NBC is just like the rest of the main stream media: they are rating whores. They don't give a flying fuck about truth or objectivity, they will say or do anything to get ratings. I don't assume that they tell the truth, just like I avoid the NY Times and Huffington

  • by Etcetera ( 14711 ) on Friday October 16, 2015 @10:46PM (#50748071) Homepage

    Anyone who thinks this is beyond the pale has obviously never piloted a plain before. I don't care if built the aviation device yourself by hand with spare Christmas decoration parts, if you're in the air you need to do your registration, paperwork, and file a flight plan. "Model airplanes" hadn't necessarily required licensing (so long as you stay below a certain height), but other aspects of it (like radio-telemetry) do.

    So long as we're getting to a point where someone's "drone" is enough of a hazard to the conduct of real air operations, it makes perfect sense to nip this problem in the bud.

    If there's an unmarked drone flying around, filming people, and doing God-knows-what-else, I want do be able to file a complaint with the FAA about it.

    • You do realize that private aircraft are not required to file a flight plan in a great many situations. I fly out of a commercial airport in my 172 and don't have to file flight plans.

      • So? The FAA says that if you want to fly a 4-pound plastic quadcopter up to 30 feet in the air to take photographs of somebody's new landscaping project, you have to be a licensed pilot, and file a flight plan. Doesn't really matter what they do or don't require YOU to do, we're talking about how they're approaching the use of toy-sized copters with GoPros on them.
    • Registration doesn't solve any of the problems you perceive. The one thing it does is creates a barrier to entry to reduce the number of douche-bags flying around haphazardly. Though on second thought, making marijuana a controlled substance hasn't really reduced its usage, so more likely requiring registration won't make any difference at all. But one thing is for sure: I can't read the registration marks on a 747 in flight, much less an 18" quadcopter, soooo... good luck filing that complaint! It's a poin
    • The drones certainly can be a danger, but I have a hard time seeing how registration would help. Seems that it'd be more reasonable to have limits on how high they can fly, and disallow flights near airports. Presumably the FAA could start requiring drone manufacturers to come up with technical solutions that would make it difficult for private drone operators to override these rules.
    • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

      Plains are hard to fly; they're big and mostly covered in brush and the aerodynamics are terrible. You can get one airborne, but it takes a lot of explosives and it's strictly ballistic after that.

    • Anyone who thinks this is beyond the pale has obviously never piloted a plain before.

      I've piloted a plane around scenic plains a few dozen times if that counts. It was with an instructor cuz I would b dead otherwise.

      I don't care if built the aviation device yourself by hand with spare Christmas decoration parts, if you're in the air you need to do your registration, paperwork, and file a flight plan. "Model airplanes" hadn't necessarily required licensing (so long as you stay below a certain height), but other aspects of it (like radio-telemetry) do.

      Why is this necessary?

      So long as we're getting to a point where someone's "drone" is enough of a hazard to the conduct of real air operations, it makes perfect sense to nip this problem in the bud.

      Why does it make perfect sense?

      If there's an unmarked drone flying around, filming people, and doing God-knows-what-else, I want do be able to file a complaint with the FAA about it.

      Is there something that would stop you from doing so currently?

    • but other aspects of it (like radio-telemetry) do.

      No you don't. The vast majority of popular models include the telemetry in the same frequency and even same transmitters as the control. You don't need any kind of licensing provided you stay within the allocated bands and power requirements.

    • by khallow ( 566160 )
      A better solution is to never let you fly. Then we never have to worry about your plane being taken down by a drone, registered or unregistered.

      So long as we're getting to a point where someone's "drone" is enough of a hazard to the conduct of real air operations, it makes perfect sense to nip this problem in the bud.

      I suppose you can't be bothered to show that this is a problem first?

      If there's an unmarked drone flying around, filming people, and doing God-knows-what-else, I want do be able to file a complaint with the FAA about it.

      And what are they going to do about it that they aren't doing now?

    • never piloted a plain before

      I've driven across Kansas and Oklahoma repeatedly; does that count?

  • You have the right to a reasonable amount of privacy on your own property. The fact that someone bought a drone does not grant them the privilege of violating your right to privacy.
    • You have the right to a reasonable amount of privacy on your own property. The fact that someone bought a drone does not grant them the privilege of violating your right to privacy.

      You have the right to a reasonable amount of privacy on your own property. The fact that someone bought a plane does not grant them the privilege of violating your right to privacy. Ban air travel now!

  • Rc aircraft has been around for a long time. Now suddenly hobbyists are a threat to people? Everyone figured thats why the redesignation with drones. Either rc aircraft was to be made sounding more dangerous or military aircraft to sound more tame. Ps, whats with the advertisements on mobile that cover up the submit button.
  • They're doing this because they're worried about the dangers - not from commercial aviation - but from drones being used as assassination tools.

    Slap some explosives and shrapnel on a drone, fly it into a press conference, like: This [youtube.com] and this. [youtube.com] Maybe use a gun, like this. [youtube.com]

    Why make it easy and effectively untraceable for someone to do this when you can regulate it?
    Won't stop someone dedicated, who can learn and make their own drone - but it sure as hell raises the bar on them if they want to stay anonymous.

    I th

    • Re:ACTUAL reason (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Saturday October 17, 2015 @12:52AM (#50748439)

      Yeah, because someone who's planning to kill someone with a drone will definitely register it and ask permission to do so.

      • Hey thats the logic behind gun control
    • Slap some explosives and shrapnel on a drone, fly it into a press conference

      So what keeps any other conventional RC aircraft operator from doing the same, with the advantage that one has been able for years to build large aircraft that can fly at 200 mph and carry 20-30 pounds of payload? The engines for such aircraft are rather expensive, but any decently-funded organization wouldn't have an issue with that.

      What's so special about a 3 pound quadcopter? Traditional RC helicopters are much faster an
    • They're doing this because they're worried about the dangers - not from commercial aviation - but from drones being used as assassination tools.

      That's not what really worries the elite.

      It's the ability it gives regular people to observe what they don't want people to see, to reveal things they're doing that they don't want people to know are happening, or who is really responsible.

      They don't want, for instance, video taken by drone proving plainclothes police 'agent provocateurs' were responsible for the violence that was the excuse to send in riot police to an otherwise peaceful protest march where some peaceful protesters ended up dead from rubbe

  • This is the same bs as with guns. Those who will fly those drones near airport will make damn sure to remove any serial number or registration mark. Criminals don't give a fuck about registration / regulation.
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      From a city/state law enforcement officials perspective it gets past all issues that some states have over "Stop and identify statutes".
      With a drone in play anyone in any state might have to produce their new photo id drone documents on demand, no legal 'reason' needed.
      Then the the long complex chat down can begin. What can be seen from the drone, what was captured by the drone at 4k, on public property but... near a .... site.
      Next step will be DSLR and video camera users :) Think of them as slow drone
    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      Just make it unlawful to remove the serial number or registration mark like they do with firearms - problem solved.

  • So let me get this straight: You have to register a small flying device because it poses danger to people. But if you have a gun that can kill people you do not.

    I have an idea: Take this regulation, replace every word "drone" with a the word "gun" and then you have a gun regulation.

  • That way the NRA will fight for my right to have unfettered, unregulated access.

    You can have my drone when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!

    • You've made the point! The US gubmint realizes it can't do a thing about guns, that horse has left the barn. They don't want to repeat that mistake with drones, so if they get "registration" in place quickly, then they will be able to solve drone-related crimes in the future. I've been flying radio controlled hobby planes for years, and get that it is a widely spread hobby. But I also have a dread feeling that these fun toys, especially the newer expensive quadracopters, are simple to fly, very accurate, ca
  • by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Saturday October 17, 2015 @08:03AM (#50749179) Homepage

    the Department of Transportation is expected to announce Monday

    It's about time someone did that. Damn thing always sneaks up on me.

  • I dont know how it is in the US but here in Australia the shelves of the toy stores are filled with flying machines of all sorts with names like Air Hogs and and Fast Lane.

    There are even people out there trying to use various parts to build LEGO models that can actually fly off the ground.

  • More laws for the citizens to pay for and the criminals to ignore.

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