Drone delivery one step closer to reality with new FAA rules

Amazon, Google's parent Alphabet, and UPS all hope to one day deliver large amounts of goods by drone. New US government rules clear some hurdles to making t...

Posted: Dec 29, 2020 9:38 AM

Amazon, Google's parent Alphabet, and UPS all hope to one day deliver large amounts of goods by drone. New US government rules clear some hurdles to making that dream a reality.

The Federal Aviation Administration finalized new rules for small, unmanned drones on Monday that could pave the way for expanded commercial uses of the vehicles, including delivery services.

For the first time, the FAA will allow small commercial drones to fly short distances over people and at night without a waiver. Small drones will also be permitted to fly over moving vehicles under limited conditions.

In a change from a previous proposed draft of the rules, drone operators must also have their remote pilot certificates on their persons and ready to be displayed if challenged by the authorities.

The rules apply to drone operators who use their unmanned aircraft for work or business under the FAA's Part 107 regulations. As many as 1.7 million drones have been registered with the FAA as well as more than 203,000 drone pilots, the agency said.

"The new rules make way for the further integration of drones into our airspace by addressing safety and security concerns," said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. "They get us closer to the day when we will more routinely see drone operations such as the delivery of packages."

The agency said it submitted the rule changes to the Federal Register and that it expects the them to be published in January. The new regulations will take effect 60 days after publication.

The new rules mark a significant step forward by the US government toward a future of commercial drone deliveries, a vision outlined by Amazon as far back as 2013. Since then, the FAA's development of drone regulations has progressed in fits and starts, prompting critics to worry that other countries could pull ahead and gain a critical first-mover advantage in drone-based commerce.

Industry advocates said there are still many steps ahead before that drone delivery can truly go mainstream in the US — such as opening up the rules to allow routine drone flights beyond an operator's visual line of sight.

Those types of expanded operations "are critical to fully realizing the promise of [drone] technology to deliver innumerable economic and societal benefits," said the Small UAV Coalition, an industry advocacy group.

Still, the changes could give a boost to companies that have all explored shipping goods via unmanned aircraft.

Last year, UPS and Wing — a sister company to Google — became the first companies to gain FAA approval to operate a drone airline. In August, Amazon received the same approval certificate. Amazon has set a goal of completing drone deliveries within 30 minutes or less of an order being placed.

Under the new FAA rules, small drones must be equipped with anti-collision lights and other technology to help remotely identify both the aircraft and their operators, according to an FAA fact sheet.

Pilots will also no longer be required to undergo an in-person training test every two years. Instead, they may complete the test online.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 175592

Reported Deaths: 2460
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah35068568
Washington23492229
Marion20261299
Clackamas15451204
Lane11656144
Jackson9938127
Umatilla796883
Deschutes717272
Linn417563
Yamhill411675
Klamath349059
Polk345752
Malheur342858
Josephine306662
Douglas304965
Benton273318
Jefferson207332
Coos197831
Columbia155126
Union141624
Lincoln130520
Wasco129928
Hood River112729
Morrow107915
Clatsop8998
Crook88119
Baker86114
Curry5959
Tillamook5823
Lake4137
Grant4124
Harney3066
Wallowa1575
Sherman570
Gilliam561
Wheeler251
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3720901

Reported Deaths: 61045
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles122932823648
Riverside2973194528
San Bernardino2948834556
San Diego2751123674
Orange2690364896
Santa Clara1171862017
Kern1078791322
Sacramento1015111646
Fresno1006211646
Alameda854811477
Ventura803091000
San Joaquin715271334
Contra Costa67101782
Stanislaus605131030
Tulare49414831
Monterey43267357
San Mateo41201560
San Francisco36073525
Santa Barbara33913446
Solano32027239
Merced31267452
Sonoma29715311
Imperial27991719
Kings22777245
Placer21878283
San Luis Obispo20972257
Madera16277239
Santa Cruz15615204
Marin13865226
Yolo13562200
Shasta11722218
Butte11591196
El Dorado9777109
Napa968079
Sutter9292109
Yuba611044
San Benito598963
Lassen567324
Tehama543056
Nevada447775
Tuolumne408164
Mendocino398747
Amador362746
Humboldt362138
Lake341343
Glenn235825
Colusa219916
Calaveras206051
Siskiyou195921
Inyo141738
Del Norte12887
Mono12744
Plumas6936
Modoc4904
Mariposa4267
Trinity3985
Sierra1100
Alpine880
Unassigned510
Medford
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 64°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 64°
Medford
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 64°
Medford
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 64°
Klamath Falls
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 52°
Clearing tonight, sunny and warmer tomorrow
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events