Flying a drone in the U.S. is tricky. Thanks to regulations passed two years ago there are a number of new rules that all drone pilots have to abide by. These include flying below a certain altitude, flying away from airports and military bases, and having a line of sight to the drone at all times. While these regulations do make sense for hobbyists, they make it hard for companies like Amazon to get their drone delivery businesses off the ground.
While those regulations aren’t going away anytime soon, the government is beginning the process to make it easier for companies to circumvent them. Just last week, President Trump signed a memo to the Department of Transportation, directing them to begin the process of developing rules to allow commercial drone operators to fly more freely in the U.S.
So what does that mean for drone pilots? Not much right now, but it might mean more commercial opportunities in the near future. These new rules the DoT is developing, collectively called the Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program, could loosen the regulations that are already in place, making it easier for businesses and individuals to fly drones.
But first, the DoT has to decide what these new rules are going to be. To do this, they’re going to take proposals from local, state, and tribal leaders over the next few months. Then, the DoT will choose the five most promising proposals and run small experiments over the next three years, to see which is the best. Then, whichever proposal does the best will be implemented nationally.
When these new rules are finally implemented, they could trigger a “drone boom,” where drone-related businesses and services skyrocket. Not only will companies like Amazon benefit, but a wide range of industries like agriculture, surveying, insurance, and disaster relief could see major innovation starting three years from now.