The use of small unmanned aircraft systems (“sUAS” and commonly referred to as drones) has exploded over the past few years, with associated technology advancing rapidly. In part, this has been the result of the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) promulgating regulations for UAS weighing less than 55 pounds engaged in non-recreational operations (so-called Part 107 regulations). In addition, the number of waivers or authorizations granted by the FAA to sUAS operators that allow operations outside the restrictions of Part 107 is rapidly increasing. More and more, many industries have been utilizing drones, including insurance, agriculture, oil and gas, construction, journalism, real estate, and the motion picture and television industries. Uses will continue to expand, as the FAA eventually promulgates regulations that will allow greater flexibility for commercial sUAS operations outside of the restrictions of Part 107, including allowing sUAS operations at night, above people, and/or beyond visual line-of-sight (“BVLOS”).
Originally published in the September–October 2018 edition of RAIL: The Journal of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence & Law.
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