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Ear to the Ground

Here Come the (Commercial) Drones, America

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Posted on Jun 10, 2014

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The Federal Aviation Administration has given BP permission to use drones in Alaska, marking the first time the government agency has allowed commercial drones to fly over American land. The energy giant has teamed up with unmanned aircraft manufacturer AeroVironment to keep tabs on oil pipelines, roads and equipment in Alaska from the skies with the aid of a Puma drone.

As The Guardian reported Tuesday, Congress is pushing the FAA to nail down safety rules for commercial drones, although certain projects have been given clearance.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta has said drafting such rules is complex because they must ensure that the large volume and diversity of manned aircraft in US skies are protected. Even a small drone that collides with plane traveling at high speeds or gets chewed up by helicopter rotors could cause a crash.

But as the cost of small drones has come down and their sophistication and usefulness has increased, entrepreneurs and businesses from real estate agents to wedding video makers aren’t waiting for government permission. Drone industry officials have warned that the longer the FAA takes to write regulations, the more rogue commercial operators will multiply.

Hollywood is also eager to get in on the act, and the FAA might give seven movie companies permission to use drones to shoot aerial footage, according to The Guardian.

—Posted by Donald Kaufman.

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