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Digital license plates are coming to drones thanks to new FAA regulations

The new restriction is for drones weighing over .55 lbs.

police using skydio drone
Image: Skydio

Drone hobbyists will soon have another set of restrictions put on their flight patterns by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), from a new set of regulations that were announced on Monday. The biggest change? All drones over 0.55 lbs will need to be able to broadcast their location to local authorities by 2022, essentially fitting every consumer unmanned aerial vehicle with a transponder.

The broadcast requirement is known as Remote ID and requires unmanned aerial vehicles to broadcast remote ID messages via radiofrequency. Previously, operators had been worried that the FAA would require location data to be transmitted over the internet, essentially banning flight in areas where data signals were not present.

Think of Remote ID as a digital license plate for your drone, and you’ve got the general idea. Generally, only drones over 0.55 lbs are required to broadcast their ID, but smaller drones also need to transmit if they are flying over open-air assemblies, such as concerts or protests.

“They get us closer to the day when we will more routinely see drone operations such as the delivery of packages,” says FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.

The FAA also cleared licensed drone operators such as Amazon or Alphabet’s Wing subsidiary to fly unmanned aerial vehicles at night, paving the way for the expansion of drone-based deliveries. Smaller vehicles will also be able to fly over populated areas, making home deliveries possible.

Will your next pizza be delivered via drone? We can only hope, as the pandemic rages on and contactless delivery is the hot buzzword.

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