2016 will be the dawn of the drone age

20 Jan 2016 | Author: | No comments yet »

2016 will be the dawn of the drone age.

Whether the topic was military drones operating overseas, or examining how to regulate the growing presence of private and commercial drones in U.S., drones emerged as the unavoidable topic about future tech.

If you live in the U.S. and own any kind of drone that weighs more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds (and that’s pretty much every drone that isn’t a toy like the Parrot MiniDrone), you have until February 19, 2016 to register it.With the expectation that hundreds of thousands of drones will become gifts this holiday season, the Federal Aviation Administration began registering remote-controlled aircraft Monday so the agency could track the owners of drones collide with other aircraft or fly dangerously. County airport authority spokesman Bob Kerlik says drone sightings near the county airport and Pittsburgh International Airport have been “relatively rare.” The drone owner – whether it’s a new purchase, say, for Christmas, or a drone that’s been flying for years — will have to register a name, a physical address and email address.

The registry, which will allow the FAA to track drones in instances of collisions or airspace violations, also aims to reinforce the rules for flying. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, left, at the Dept. of Transportation in Washington, Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, following the drone registration announcement. But officials said their efforts are educational as much as for safety enforcement. “Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely.” Hobbyists are supposed to fly no higher than 400 feet during daylight hours, keeping the aircraft within sight of the operator and away from airports.

Registration will be free for the next 30 days (you’ll still have to enter your credit card information for verification, but the FAA will refund you your $5 almost immediately). But as a number of reports (more on that later) throughout the year indicated, left unchecked, many drone users risk endangering public safety and invading the privacy of unsuspecting neighbors. Of course, the new rules won’t necessarily solve all of these issues in the coming year and beyond, but by making every drone user directly accountable, the chances of someone operating a drone recklessly will probably decrease.

But hobbyists who scrutinized the records contend that many of the reports involve objects that aren’t drones or that involve drones following the rules. The Academy of Model Aeronautics, which represents 185,000 hobbyists nationwide, has said the registry will create “an unnecessary burden” on the group’s members. Once you get that number, you can either write it on the outside of your drone or place it inside the battery compartment (as long as that can be accessed without the use of tools). It’s the astronomical beginning of the winter season (though meteorologists define the beginning of winter as Dec. 1, the start of the coldest three months in the Northern Hemisphere).

Pope Francis gathered the Roman Curia — the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See — to deliver his traditional Christmas greeting Monday. Aside from the issue of hobbyists and photographers, with recent terrorism events hitting Paris and the U.S. alike, the notion of the drones being used to carry out terror attacks on commercial planes is no longer far-fetched. He urged Vatican bureaucrats to show more honesty, humility and sobriety as he issued a Christmas-time “catalog of virtues” for his collaborators to follow after having excoriated them last year for a host of sins. International Space Station astronauts will perform a spacewalk on Monday to move a work platform stuck on rails outside the orbiting research complex.

The drone news got even crazier as some property owners turned to shooting drones out of the sky as some have been seen as amateur spying devices that can peek in on neighbors with relative ease. The owner of the drone was attempting to land the device when he lost control of it and it hit a tree and collided with the child, who needed several surgeries before being fitted for a prosthetic eye. Suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter and the man who was once slated to succeed him, Michel Platini, were punished by FIFA’s ethics court in relation to an investigation of a $2 million payment Blatter approved for Platini without telling his executive committee colleagues.

Regulations and industry are being reactionary,” says Mike Kelly, of ProSight Specialty Insurance, a firm that offers insurance for drone operators. “We can’t be reactionary in innovation. We have to be proactive so that stories like Oscar’s never happen.” Finally, what seemed like fanciful science-fiction talk in 2013 moved a little closer to reality as Amazon revealed a prototype of its Prime Air delivery drone. Drones may not deliver to large skyscrapers, but you may see them deliver to various logistic points in these cities from which they are then transported by car, bike or foot.” Taking the entirety of 2015 into account, it’s hard not to see 2016 as the year that drones truly begin to come into their own as tools for startups and major players alike.

For private users, the new FAA registration requirements will either cull the herd, leaving behind only the most serious drone users, or it could turn into a data privacy nightmare when the FAA’s name and address database inevitably gets used for unsavory purposes. Most importantly, 2016 will be the dawn of real robotics, now equipped with official, government-backed rules, entering the U.S. mainstream before autonomous cars or humanoid robot assistants find their way into the lives of most citizens. That we’re even seriously asking such questions tells us that we’re entering a new era in which drones are no longer toys, but a real technology poised to impact every aspect of our lives. “Consumer drone sales are expected to reach four million this year, and 16 million by 2020,” says Lamprecht. “Add to that their commercial use, and it’s clear that drones are here to stay.

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