Small drones will be allowed to fly over people at night as well as during the day in the United States, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This is a very significant move toward using drones for widespread commercial deliveries.
This permission has long been anticipated and it will deal with security concerns as it requires remote identification technology in most cases in order to enable their identification from the ground.
Until now, small drone operations over people were limited to operations over people who were directly participating in the operation. It meant that they were located under a covered structure, or inside a stationary vehicle, unless operators had obtained a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
These rules will take effect two months following publication in the federal register in January, 2021 and drone manufacturers will have 18 months to begin producing drones with Remote ID, whereas operators will have an additional year to provide Remote ID. There are other rules that are more complicated that allow for operations at night and over people for larger drones in some approved cases.
Steve Dickson, FAA Administrator, stated:
“The new rules make way for the further integration of drones into our airspace by addressing safety and security concerns. They get us closer to the day when we will more routinely see drone operations such as the delivery of packages.”*
In order to make more rapid deliveries, companies have been racing to create drone fleets. In 2020 there were over 1.7 million drone registrations and 203,000 FAA-certificated remote pilots.
In order to operate drones at night, the FAA requires drones to be equipped with anti-collision lights.
Although Remote ID is required for all drones weighing 0.55 lb (0.25 kg) or more, it is required for smaller drones under certain circumstances, such as flights over open-air assemblies.
These new rules no longer require drones to be connected to the internet in order to transmit location data as they broadcast remote ID messages via radio frequency broadcast. Without this change, drone usage could have been forbidden to fly in areas without internet access.
The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International stated that Remote ID will function as “a digital license plate for drones … that will enable more complex operations [while operations at night and over people] are important steps towards enabling integration of drones into our national airspace.”*
United Parcel Service Inc (UPS, Inc.) stated in October, 2019 that it won approval from the government’s first full approval to operate a drone airline and this same year, Alphabet’s Wing — a fellow unit of search engine Google — was the first company to receive U.S. air carrier certification for a single-pilot drone operation.
In August, Amazon.com Inc’s drone service obtained federal approval, it will enable more complex operations [while operations at night and over people] are important steps towards enabling integration of drones into our national airspace
The FAA’a approval for these drones to be allowed to fly over people at night as well as during the day is a very significant move toward using drones for widespread commercial deliveries. Flying operations at night and over people will enable more complex operations, which are vital steps towards enabling integration of drones into our national airspace.
It is no surprise that giant companies such as Amazon, Walmart, and UPS have taken steps to take advantage of this FAA approval and thus be able to integrate drones for widespread commercial deliveries.