The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Monday that it is enacting long-awaited rules to allow small drones to fly over people at night, an important step towards their use for widespread commercial deliveries.
The FAA also requires remote identification of most drones, which are formally known as unmanned aerial vehicles, to be removed for security reasons.
"The new rules are giving way to the further integration of drones into our airspace by addressing safety and security concerns," FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement. "They bring us closer to the day when we will see more drone operations, such as parcel delivery."
The race is on for companies to create drone fleets to speed up deliveries.
For nighttime operations, the FAA said the drone should be equipped with anti-collision lights. The last rules allow operations over moving vehicles under certain circumstances.
Remote ID is required for all drones weighing 0.55 lbs or more, but is required for smaller drones under certain circumstances, such as flights over open-air assemblies.
One change to the last rule requires that those tiny drones should not have exposed rotating parts that would tear human skin. The final Remote ID rule eliminates the requirement for drones to be connected to the internet to transmit location data; the last rule requires drones to broadcast remote ID messages via radio frequency transmissions.
United Parcel Service Inc. said in October 2019 that it has received the first full government approval to operate a drone airline.
Last year, Alphabet's Wing, a sister unit of search engine Google, was the first company to receive US airline certification for a single-pilot drone operation. In August, Amazon.com Inc's drone service received federal approval allowing the retailer to test commercial deliveries through its drone fleet.
The new rules will take effect 60 days after publication next month. Drone manufacturers have 18 months to start manufacturing drones with Remote ID, while drone operators have an additional year to start using drones with Remote ID.
(Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Nick Zieminski)
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