The big hurdle to overcome before commercial drone applications will be allowed on a large scale is remote drone identification. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has now launched a test program to speed up the drone identification rules. Up to eight test programs are to be paid for by drone industry parties.

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FAA test program to speed up drone identification rules

Andy Pasztor writes for the WSJ.com [paywall]:

“FAA launches test program to speed up drone identification rules. Industry to pay for prototype projects intended to accelerate expansion of unmanned aircraft in U.S.

U.S. air-safety regulators have announced plans for industry-government pilot projects to test airborne identification of drones, the latest bid to accelerate development of such systems nationwide.

The new Federal Aviation Administration program, spelled out in a Federal Register notice earlier this month, envisions creating up to eight company-financed prototype projects to examine various options. The goal is to verify technologies and provide real-world data to hasten broader regulatory steps aimed at significantly expanding commercial uses of unmanned aircraft.

Without reliable ways to remotely identify and track drones, regulators, law-enforcement agencies and national-security officials have resisted opening up swaths of U.S. airspace for the burgeoning industry. Commercial drones generally are restricted to a maximum of 55 pounds, and are allowed to fly only below 400 feet and within sight of an operator on the ground.

In its low-key announcement of the remote-identification initiative before Christmas, FAA officials stressed their commitment to flexibility. The agency seeks to concentrate on small-scale, short-term field trials as precursors to help shape long-term strategies

The lack of relatively inexpensive and dependable drone-identification options is widely considered the biggest hurdle preventing routine drone flights over populated areas, package-delivery services and other promising applications from becoming reality.

One of the primary questions that still must be answered, however, is whether drones will broadcast positions using cellphone signals or more extensive internet networks covering larger geographical areas and including law-enforcement agencies.”

You can read the entire article here [paywall].

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