If you’ve been flying your new Phantom 3 (see resources) , 3DR or another trendy drone since Christmas, then you’ll want to hear what we’ve learned regarding regulations and legally flying. The current uproar about personal drones and what you can and cannot do is a case of technology being ahead of the law and federal regulations. The FAA, spurred by concerns over public safety and privacy has started an awareness campaign to help educate both drone owners and their neighbors on what to expect. There has also been legislation enacted requiring certain drones to be registered with the FAA and where and when they can be flown. The FAA has attempted to address all types and categories of drones, from the palm-sized toys that fly around your bedroom to the large multirotor aerial videography and photography models.
The FAA is responsible for the safety of U.S. Air Space. This means that they control the area from the ground up. All noncommercial pilots, including drone pilots, are limited to using any type of model aircraft below 400 feet and within sight of the operator. They must also be operated more than five miles away from air traffic and airports unless prior notification is provided the FAA. There are also other no-fly zones, including national parks and military bases. While there are some drones which have GPS to help them stay away from no-fly areas, most of the time it is up to the operator to ensure they do not fly too close.
It really comes down to common sense when choosing areas to fly your drone. Do not fly over power lines or large crowds of people. Also, avoid schools, stadiums, and government buildings. It is a good idea to avoid densely populated areas in general. Before you fly into a new area, check with local officials to see if there are any restrictions. Also, be careful about using your camera to film anywhere or someone who might have an expectation of privacy.
The number of personal drones is growing every year. Some experts believe that it will not be unusual to see drones flying anywhere within the next ten years. There is technology in development that will allow a drone operator to summon their drone to them via radio signals. The drone will then follow the operator around filming whatever the operators wants to be videoed or photographed. For example, a surfer may want footage of them shooting a killer wave. They can simply press the button on their portable device and summon their drone. The drone will them film the surfer during their run. Should the batteries on the drone get low, it can be programmed to land itself on the beach.
Drones are already being used to find lost hikers, to survey archaeological sites, and to take aerial imagery of properties. It has been the advance in smartphone technology which has helped move drone technology forward. Smartphones have resulted in advanced technology like accelerometers, gyroscopes, GPS, and armed processors, all of which make it easier to produce functioning and less expensive autopilots.
When it comes to technology, it has long been the trend to take new ideas and give them to the people. This is why personal drones are growing so quickly in popularity. They are a way for anyone to access the fun of the new technology.