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FAA Expects 600,000 Commercial Drones In The Air Within A Year (npr.org) 47

The drone industry is expected to expand dramatically in the coming months and years with the passing of a new rule (PDF) that makes it easier to become a commercial drone operator. The Federal Aviation Administration predicts there to be roughly 600,000 drones to be used commercially within the next year. NPR reports: "For context, the FAA says that 20,000 drones are currently registered for commercial use. What's expected to produce a 30-fold increase in a matter of months is a new rule that went into effect today and makes it easier to become a commercial drone operator. Broadly, the new rules change the process of becoming a commercial drone pilot: Instead of having to acquire a traditional pilot's license and getting a special case-by-case permission from the regulators, drone operators now need to pass a new certification test and abide by various flying restrictions (and, well, be older than 16). The rest of the drone safety rules still apply: No flights beyond line-of-sight, over people, at night, above 400 feet in the air or faster than 100 miles an hour. Drones also can't be heavier than 55 pounds, and all unmanned aircraft have to be registered. Businesses, however, may get special wavers to skip some of the restrictions if they can prove they can do so safely. The drone association expects the industry will create more than 100,000 jobs and generate more than $82 billion for the economy in the first 10 years of being integrated into the national airspace. The FAA is also working on new rules that eventually will allow drone flights over people and beyond line of sight."
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FAA Expects 600,000 Commercial Drones In The Air Within A Year

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  • Not drones (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Monday August 29, 2016 @06:03PM (#52792821)
    We call em "targets".
    • This might be the perfect time for some shotgun shell manufacturer to work on a 'drone load'. Magnetized steel to mess up the compass just before the final blow. Sized perfectly to powder light plastic objects but remain harmless to birds, pedestrians and real aircraft. Bonus points for being biodegradable.

      Perhaps a Kickstarter?

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Are they really a justifiable target? Let's see 55 pounds at 100 miles per hour add in spinning blades made of undetermined material (razor sharp metal as legal a ducted rounded edge plastic), now what can go wrong with millions of those in the air. I have to say, their assumed safe to operate level is, 'fucking insane'. Well, that a few hundred lethalities and thousands of crippling accidents waiting to happen, per year. Lobbyists hard at work screwing every else over and those jobs are not new, just B$,

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        You have no right to open fire upon drones any more than you have a right to do that to cars passing by your house.

        Destruction of property, discharging a firearm in a dangerous manner, reckless endangerment, criminal damage to property, vandalism, theft... there's an endless list of crimes someone can be charged with for shooting at drones.

        You do not own the airspace over your home. You have absolutely no right to shoot at drones or aircraft or anything else, because, well, you don't own the airspace. If

      • by sycodon ( 149926 )

        Meh...

        Given the availability of high power lasers to the general public and guidance systems, just create a drone killer that you install on the roof. Anything that crosses your property line lower than (whatever the lawyers say) is continually lased until it either leaves or falls from the sky.

        If they can zap a Mosquito [youtube.com] then a drone can't be too hard,.

      • No, what I think we need is to fight fire with fire. Build drones that hunt other drones. Perhaps like SAMs, you paint the target wiht a coded laser beam, and the drone locks onto the target and takes it out of the sky? Doesn't even have to destroy it, all it'd have to do is deploy some sort of net or chaff or string or something else that will foul the rotors of the targeted drone, and make it fall out of the sky.
    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      600,000? That's a lot of .410 birdshot! [slashdot.org]
  • Wow, $82 billion over 10 years? thats a lot of money! It might pay for the toilet paper for the US Military!
    • 1. Prohibit all commercial drone activity
      2. Create a bureaucracy to regulate it and pass Byzantine regulations.
      3. Claim credit for other people's potential profit!

  • i am skeptical about the numbers and time period, merely due to a rule change. these regulatory people have an exaggerated notion of their power in real world.
    a change furthermore that require some time to implement in detail. (for instance, how many can practically get new certification during one year? )

    -
    more interestingly would be the public reaction to inevitable first few deaths, if numbers do reach the ones cited (if not in 1 year in 1 decade or so ). how would inevitable calls for tighter regulations

    • these regulatory people have an exaggerated notion of their power in real world.

      Maybe they just need a reason to exist,... or expand.

    • I'd expect public outcry to be over more mundane issues, like noise, privacy, and operator trespass. Imagine living near a celeb and having to deal with the paparazzi flying drones. Or professional photographers flying drones over residential tourist attractions, like Lombard Street in SF. It would get incredibly annoying very quickly.

    • (for instance, how many can practically get new certification during one year? )

      For a lot of people it is a paperwork exercise. And for many of those, it is a paperwork exercise that gives them an immediate temporary certificate.

      So, the answer to your question is: a lot.

      This story is months old by now. The "clean and signed" Part 107 document that is linked to in the summary went out in June, IIRC. The linked copy still says "60 days from publishing in the federal register" instead of an actual date, even.

      how would inevitable calls for tighter regulations be handled?

      Probably the same way calls for tighter regulations for manned aircraft pilots

  • >> No flights beyond line-of-sight, over people,

    This is totally gonna screw Amazons drone-delivery plans.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Regulatory capture. The government's stance has shifted. It will shift again and again toward whoever is paying the money.

    • From TFA:
      >> Most of the restrictions discussed above are waivable if the applicant demonstrates that his or her operation can safely be conducted under the terms of a certificate of waiver. A big company like Amazon shouldn't have a problem getting this waiver.
    • by I4ko ( 695382 )
      Or they will just hire people for $1.98/hour to keep standing on street corners with walkies. You know, like spotters, or a localized version of ATC. I do have a few guys panhandling on intersections, almost every day, I can definitely see a use for them spotting drones.
      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        With the amount of money those panhandlers at intersections get, they aint gonna do shit for a measly $1.98/hr.

    • This is totally gonna screw Amazons drone-delivery plans.

      Amazon will not be operating under the Part 107 rules. There are other paths to compliance.

  • "This technology, which we have been promising for years will replace all kinds of delivery jobs and other jobs, will create 100,000 jobs"

  • The F.C.C. gave up regulating C.B. radio when the sheer number of users made it impractical and unprofitable to bother with. It looks like drones are headed that way, too. There will be so many drones flying around that regulations will be ineffective, so the only thing that will allow them to function will be controlled chaos.

    I suppose we'll need an interoperable protocol by which they keep from crashing into each other; that will largely be worked out by the for-profit companies using them to make money.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      And like CB Radio the fad will disperse eventually and we'll move on to the next thing...
      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        "And like CB Radio the fad will disperse eventually and we'll move on to the next thing..."

        Drone Wars! I see an upcoming market for "Roomba docking" type drones which will defend personal airspace against invading drones. Drop a net on 'em, pick 'em up, eBay FTW!
      • drones actually have some practical applications. I am sure many will just jump on the bandwagon because it is cool but I expect over the coming years they will become a staple site in the skies like it or not (personally not).
    • the FCC eased the regulations on CB but didn't "give up", there are still regulations for the power, antenna height, frequency, etc.

      http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/te... [ecfr.gov]

    • I see a future market for a couple things: Anti-drone drones, and anti-drone jammers. From what I understand of it, if these drones lose their control signal, they drop into a safe mode of some sort, and either return to where they came from, or land. Don't want them around your house? Set up a jammer broadcasting with sufficient power that there is a perimeter within which drones won't operate. Problem solved.
  • Oh, I forgot, many of our politicians are whores.
    Silly, me.

  • I expect this will go the form of the Jetsons or The Fifth Element, or Starwars coruscant scenes, with highways in the sky where the Drones, UAV flying vehicles, jets and flying cars will travel. 2 way highways with entrances and exits and virtual signs, barraiers, routes you see on HUDs and AR displays and glasses. The FCC will regulate that part. This is suppose to be commercial, not hobby people flying over peoples houses or looking into windows.
  • I used to think that in the coming years, the most precious commodity would be clean water.

    I was wrong. It will be true privacy, afforded to only the One Percent.
  • I'm predicting (and hoping for) sales of shotguns to rise by at least 600,000 within a year, to meet the rising menace to our privacy from drones.
    • There is already approximately one firearm per adult in the US. They are not evenly distributed though, some people have several, some people have none. I don't think we need to sell any more to provide an anti-drone deterrent.

      Me, I have lots of trees on my property, so a drone operator will have to fly very carefully, or just stay higher than the 120 ft pine trees.

  • 55 lbs (25 kg) at 100 mph (161 kph) sounds like a weapon to me. It could easily be targeted at a building, a plane, a car, a truck, or anything else.

    The FAA just gave terrorists easy access to the tools they need to f*ck up our world.

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