Back in February it was reported that the FAA was interested in a set of rules for drones to operate in heavily populated areas. The concern was for the potential of damage and flying into off limits zones coming from drones while the target is mainly for commercial drones.
This resulted in the FAA handing the heavy lifting of coming up with regulation for small drones to a group with interest in paving a way for commercial drones. The group’s report notes that smaller drones that are 250 grams or lighter should be able to operate in populated areas with little regulation because of lower chance of injury to bystanders. Meanwhile larger drones in the five pound range would see heavier regulation.
The rule set is being formulated at a time where tech companies—primarily Amazon and Google—are building drones for delivery and entire systems around the drones carrying out their jobs. Google especially is looking to have drones work in tandem with its autonomous delivery van project. To achieve this drones will need to be tested around the public in live conditions including weather and air traffic at specific elevations put aside for larger commercial drones.
Commercial delivery drones are definitely nearing the period where they will be sky ready for testing, so expect these regulations to shape up sometime this year.