FAA approves fully automated commercial drone flights

zA

WASHINGTON (AP) – A Massachusetts company has been granted permission to conduct commercial drone flights without a person operating the machine and in custody.

This is the first time that the Federal Aviation Administration has allowed fully automated commercial drone flights.

American Robotics Inc. has touted the advantage of their machines that they can run continuously without “expensive human labor.” The Marlborough, Massachusetts-based company said on Friday it had tested fully automated drones for four years.

CEO and co-founder Reese Mozer said there could be a $ 100 billion market in providing drone services to industries such as energy and agriculture, but the security requirements of the FAA have limited their use.

The company said its Scout drones have the technology to stay a safe distance from other planes. They are housed in base stations that allow autonomous recharging and process and transmit the data they collect from aerial surveys.

The FAA allowed companies to operate drones beyond operators’ line of sight, but a person on the ground had to be nearby. Lisa Ellman, attorney for the company and executive director of the Commercial Drone Alliance, said enabling expansion of operations beyond an operator’s sight “is essential for the industry to truly take off.”

According to documents released by the FAA Thursday, drones, which fly along planned routes, will be limited to altitudes below 400 feet (122 meters) in rural areas. The FAA will allow them to have a maximum takeoff weight of 20 pounds (nine kilograms).

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