Just back in December, we reported that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agreed to allow drones to fly over people, day or night. It was a significant step towards commercial deliveries becoming a reality in the U.S.
Now, the FAA has granted approval for the first time ever to a Massachusetts company to operate commercial drone flights without a person directing the machine or watching over it, reported ABC News.
Increases in efficiency across numerous industries
The FAA added that once such operations are conducted on a wider scale, they could mean “efficiencies to many of the industries that fuel our economy such as agriculture, mining, transportation” and certain manufacturing segments, reported The Wall Street Journal. The ruling does however come with some limitations: The drones are only allowed in rural areas and at altitudes below 400 feet (122 meters) and will have to have a maximum takeoff weight of 20 pounds (9 kilograms).
The company responsible for this groundbreaking ruling is American Robotics. “With these approvals, American Robotics is ushering in a new era of widespread automated drone operations,” said in a statement Reese Mozer, CEO and co-founder of American Robotics.
“With this set of approvals, American Robotics can begin safely operating our automated Scout platform for the benefit of the energy, infrastructure, agriculture, and security market verticals, helping unlock the projected $100 billion commercial drone market.”
Allowing the industry to take off
Reese added the FAA’s comprehensive safety requirements had previously restricted the viability of drone use in the commercial sector. Meanwhile, Lisa Ellman, Partner and Chair of the Global UAS Practice at Hogan Lovells, and Executive Director of the Commercial Drone Alliance said that "the commercial drone industry is growing quickly and providing significant benefits to the American public, but enabling expanded operations beyond visual line of sight is critical for the industry to truly take off. "
Finally, American Robotics also explained that its Scout drones have built-in technology to keep them at a safe distance from other aircraft, making them secure to use in all circumstances.