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Five Things You Should Know About Drones


Over the past few years, you might have heard the term "drone" come up in the news. Drones are unmanned aerial vehicles that are controlled from the ground or on a pre-programmed mission.

On February 15, the FAA proposed a rule that requires a special operator certificate for anyone wishing to fly an unmanned aircraft commercially in the US. This is the first regulation regarding the commercial use of drones, which have been previously used for military purposes.

With the rise of drones and their impending presence in our daily lives, here's a list of 5 things you should know about drones.

1. Drones have been active in military operations for decades.

Since humans began using aircraft in warfare during World War I, engineers have been trying to circumvent the main drawback of airplanes: the humans that have to get in and operate them. Drones were used during World War II and then, with the rise of rocketry, their use stagnated until the 1990s when computing and electrical systems made the drones we know today more plausible. For more on the history of drones, check out this article.

2. 7000 new companies are going to be flying drones soon.

With the new regulations in place, the FAA is estimating that more than 7,000 new companies will be using drones in the next three years. What types of companies can make use of drones for commercial purposes? Construction companies, real estate companies, photography companies, land surveyors and more can all use drones to enhance their jobs. Shout-out to our friends at SkySpecs, a local Ann Arbor start-up that's trying to help change the future of drone use.

3. The new regulations, if passed, will not allow for deliveries and does not impact recreational use.

Amazon isn't happy, but the new FAA regulations would not allow the drone to leave the pilot's line of sight, meaning that drone deliveries aren't going to happen any time soon. Amazon announced their Amazon Prime Air concept last July. Under an exemption for model aircraft, recreational or hobby drone operators will not be effected by the regulation. Instead, those operating a drone for a private company will be required to pass the skills test from the FAA.

4. There's been a lot of talk about government transparency and drones.

Maybe you don't remember, but the CIA's use of drones back in 2002 for a targeted killing was controversial. The military's use of missile drones has been under fire for a few years now. However, the White House recently released a directive requiring all taxpayer-funded drones to disclose where and when they fly. The information collected by these drones will be publicly available.

5. There are some restrictions though.

Commercial drone speeds will be limited to 100 mph and altitude limited to 500 feet. Near airports and certain airspace, operations will be restricted. Drones must also weigh less than 55 pounds and can fly only in daylight.

The new FAA regulations seem to be a first step in a long rise of drones. It seems inevitable that drones will become more commonplace as time goes on, becoming an important component of the aerospace industry.

This week, RGBSI will be attending Aero India 2015. If you're there, please stop by and visit us in Hall AB Stall No. 3.11.

Tags: Engineering

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