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Could 2016 Be The Year Of Drone Deliveries?

December 30, 2015 1:37 pm
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Could 2016 Be The Year Of Drone Deliveries?

Drones have been a hot topic so far this year as more and more companies argue that the unmanned aircraft would have a tremendous impact on their operations. The increased focus on drone usage has caused many to wonder whether 2016 could be the year that drone deliveries are finally made possible.

Regulations Make Deliveries Difficult

The answer to that question is no, probably not, at least not in America. The Federal Aviation Administration has been reluctant to ease regulations regarding drone flights in the US without further testing and safety requirements in place, meaning that companies hoping to use drones for things like delivery systems are unlikely to be allowed to do so any time soon.

Overcoming Hurdles

However, that doesn’t mean that drone development is dead in its tracks. In fact, many analysts believe that the opposite will be true in 2016. As companies develop new ways to safely use and fly unmanned aircraft, the FAA will have more options to consider when setting regulations.

Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos has been adamant that his company’s drone delivery system, Prime Air, is advancing rapidly and that the firm will be working with regulators around the world in the coming year to get the program up and running. In an interview this December, Bezos said drone deliveries may begin in the UK, where regulators have been more open to the possibility of drone flights out of the pilot’s line of sight.

Line Of Sight Rules

In the US, one of the sticking points for the FAA has been flying the aircraft out of the line of sight of the pilot. Current regulations prohibit drones from doing this, a rule that has kept drone deliveries from becoming a real possibility. However, Federal regulators are looking for ways to make operations like Prime Air legal and it may only be a matter of time until new rules allow drones to fly further.

Using Satellites To Track Drones

In December, FAA official Don Walker revealed that the administration is looking into the possibility of automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast technology (ADS-B) to make drone flights safer. ADS-B is a system that uses satellites in order to determine the location of manned aircraft and send that data to air-traffic controllers and other aircraft. According to Walker, this kind of system could make it safer to fly drones out of the pilot’s line of sight. However, although the FAA’s consideration paints a rosy picture for the future of drones, adding drones to a system like ADS-B wouldn’t be without hurdles and is unlikely to happen in the near future.

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