White House Releases Rules for Low-Flying Drone Operation

New rules state that drones can be used that weigh less than 55 pounds, don’t fly higher than 400 feet and don’t exceed 100 miles per hour.

New rules have been established for drone operation. The Obama administration announced on Tuesday that small drones for educational and research purposes will have open access to the skies, while commercial drones will have separate regulations that will be written at a later date.

Here is an excerpt from Reuters’ report on the news:

Drone flights will be approved for agriculture, research and development, educational and academic use, powerline, pipeline and antenna inspections. They also include aiding certain rescue operations, bridge inspections, aerial photography and wildlife nesting area evaluations.

The new rules that take effect in late August allow drones that weigh less than 55 pounds (25 kg) and fly up to 400 feet (122 m) high and 100 miles per hour (161 km per hour), but only within sight of an operator and not over people.

Drones will not be allowed to fly at night unless they have special lighting and must stay at least 5 miles (8 km) away from airports.

More: What Are the 2 Biggest Myths About Drones?

The rules also state that drone operators must be at least 16 years old and have a remote pilot certificate.

The news comes as the adoption of drones has spread across the country. In the security space, police departments have purchased their own unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to assist in search-and-rescue operations as well as other tasks. These rules apply to those applications.

As for companies like Amazon and Walmart, who have flirted with the prospect of using drones for deliveries, they will have to wait for rules to be written for commercial uses. There is currently no timetable for when that will occur.

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