Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Feds, states preparing new regs for commercial, personal drone use

By Eric Boehm

Over the next decade, the use of drones could add billions to the American economy, but only if red tape doesn’t snarl the take-off.

Federal regulators are beginning the long process of writing rules for when and how drones can be put to commercial use. The Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are considering mandatory licensing and registration for all commercial drones in the U.S., and maybe for recreational drones, too.

The FAA is chiefly worried about drones interfering with planes and violating individual privacy.

But regulations, licensing rules and requirements for new drone software could be bad news for the growing industry that could one day — soon — deliver just about anything to your front door and may generate $82 billion in economic benefits by 2025, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

“Drone technology is poised to transform the way we live and work, offering great potential for precision agriculture, aerial surveying and photography, infrastructure inspection, disaster response, parcel delivery and many other applications,” said Marc Scribner, a research fellow with CEI. “The biggest risk to drone technology is well-meaning but overzealous policy makers eager to legislate or regulate restrictions on future applications.”

Media reports of near-misses between drones and airplanes, along with coverage of incidents in which privately owned drones have spied on unsuspecting people, could generate a knee-jerk reaction that harms the growth of the industry.

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