The Federal Aviation Administration took steps on Thursday to allow privately operated drones to fly through the already heavily populated US skies. The FAA issued two documents that could pave the way for manned and unmanned aircraft to fly the skies together.
One document outlines the steps federal agencies will need to take to make it happen, while the second is a road map for the FAA to follow through on its end.
The FAA already approves of drone use in US skies on a case-by-case basis, reports CNN. However, they are limited usually to military airspace and the US borders, along with some special circumstances (such as wildfire reconnaissance).
The documents are a response to the growing demand to use remotely operated vehicles for private and commercial purposes. In light of this, the FAA’s road map is a process to increase airspace access in the next five to 10 years.
Along with a general road map for drones and a “comprehensive plan” for safety recommendations, NBC News notes that the FAA released a third document discussing privacy rules for drones on FAA-selected test sites. Ryan Calo, assistant professor of law at the University of Washington, noted that privacy is a huge concern in the realm of drones.
Calo commented that the FAA ‘seem[s] to have recognized the necessity of addressing privacy and civil liberties in integrating drones — even commercial use of drones.” The roadmap includes a specific reference to the Fair Information and Practice Principles, which are guidelines the Federal Trade Commission uses to regulate how information collected by commercial electronics can be used.
The FAA also acknowledges that security is needed — that is, digital protections to keep the drones from being hacked. In response to those concerns, the FAA explained that identifying radio or datalink security is an area in need of research and development. Control and communications in general are also important areas to focus on.
The group is mandated to safely integrate drones flown by commercial entities before the year 2015.
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