Small drones will be allowed to fly over people and at night in the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said, a significant step toward their use for widespread commercial deliveries.
Previously, small drone operations over people were limited to operations over people who were directly participating in the operation, located under a covered structure, or inside a stationary vehicle – unless operators had obtained a waiver from the FAA.
The rules will take effect 60 days after publication in the federal register in January. Drone manufacturers will have 18 months to begin producing drones with Remote ID, and operators will have an additional year to provide Remote ID.
There are other, more complicated rules that allow for operations at night and over people for larger drones in some cases.
“The new rules make way for the further integration of drones into our airspace by addressing safety and security concerns,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said. “They get us closer to the day when we will more routinely see drone operations such as the delivery of packages.”
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Companies have been racing to create drone fleets to speed deliveries. The United States has over 1.7 million drone registrations and 203,000 FAA-certificated remote pilots.
For at-night operations, the FAA said drones must be equipped with anti-collision lights. The final rules allow operations over moving vehicles in some circumstances.
The remote ID is required for all drones weighing 0.55 lb (0.25 kg) or more but is required for smaller drones under certain circumstances like flights over open-air assemblies.