Tuesday, February 28, 2012

U.S. opening up airspace to use of drones

After more than 40 years of development and extensive use by the military, the United States has set the date when the nation’s airspace will be open for drones. Should you be scared?

Short answer: No, but like any new technology, unmanned aerial vehicles have their dark side.

Legislation passed by Congress last week gives the Federal Aviation Administration until Sept. 30, 2015, to open the nation’s skies to drones.

The first step comes in 90 days when police, firefighters and other civilian first-response agencies can start flying UAVs weighing no more than 4.4 pounds, provided they meet still-to-be-determined requirements, such as having an operator on the ground within line-of-sight of the drone and flying it at least 400 feet above ground.

Currently, UAVs can only fly in restricted airspace zones controlled by the U.S. military.

By May 2013, the next class of drones, those weighing less than 55 pounds, can fly the nation’s skies, according to provisions of the FAA bill passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama last week. Read More