Just in time for Christmas, if you're planning on getting a drone for the holidays, chances are you're going to have to register it with the FAA. The new rule, which will require most drones to be registered, whether new or old, comes with a potential fine of $250,000 and 3 years in jail for those who fail to comply.
Louis says that drones delayed firefighting helicopters from getting to a brush fire, causing dozes of cars to be burned on a freeway in Southern California. Leo says that's not only terrible, but likely illegal. The FAA has been trying to work out rules to prevent these things.
Leo says that firmware updates to prevent flying in restricted airspace (an electronic leash) can only do so much. The chatroom says that there should be mandatory transponders on drones to be able to identify those who fly in restricted airspace. That could go a long way to solving the issue.
Leo says he's really interested in Drones because they're one of the fastest growing technology categories out there, but they are extremely difficult to fly. Still, at the behest of PadreSJ, Leo bought a $40 Syma QuadCopter because it was cheap and if he crashed it, nobody would really get hurt. And in 10 seconds, it disappeared. That was his first experience.
John has a Bebop drone with Sky Controller. Leo says that Parrot AR is the company that made drones popular. Leo says that they've done an interesting thing with the Bebop because it has a wide angle camera and can use software to key in on what you want to look at. The camera is f2.2 and 14MP. It can be controlled with a smartphone, or by the optional Sky Controller.
With the recent loss of a quadcopter on White House grounds, the need for more specific FAA rules on drone use has become more important. And yesterday, the FAA released proposed new rules for doing just that. The rules include that drones must be under 55 lbs, fly under 500 feet and go no faster than 100 mph. There would be an age limit of 17 and you must pass a aereonautics exam and be vetted by the FAA. But you wouldn't need a license. The rules have a public comment of 60 days.
Mark's company currently enjoys an exemption from the FAA to fly drones for commercial use. Mark says the lighter your drone is, the more challenging it is to fly. It's always important to have extra batteries. Additionally, it's important to always fly with someone else because your perspective is often skewed, and a second person can help you keep track of it.
Airplane pilots are pushing for new rules from the FAA to protect them from unmanned aerial drones, and according to GigaOm the pressure from aviation groups has been part of the reason why the FAA hasn't adopted formal commercial drone rules. Leo says that the other part of the problem is that the FAA, while having the authority to put forth said rules, has no way to enforce them.
John Miller fills in for Chris Marquardt today. He holds the distinction of flying a quadcopter at the highest altitude ever recorded on Mount Everest. John goes up with Chris every year, and he's documented their Everest adventure on stills and videos. This year he brought a DJI Phantom Quadcopter with a GoPro camera. He took it to Base Camp and flew it, making it the highest recorded quadcopter flight ever. He also brought a Turbo Ace Matrix drone which has 15 propellers for a larger payload and greater lift.
Ellis wants to know if there are air rights established over buildings and residencies? Leo says that only if he is using drones for commercial purposes. He can only use it for private and personal use. Air rights? That's a lawyer question. Air rights do extend up, but the FAA regulates it. So the FAA is probably the best place to ask. The FAA is being very hard against commercial use of drones because of the explosion of drone usage.
Burt wants to know if drones are the future of technology, and should he get trained for it? Leo says that the military is the best place to be trained as a drone pilot. In the commercial sector, most of the drones are automated.
If he wants to learn, the DJI Phantom 2 is a fantastic Quadcopter that is remote controlled and GPS aided. It's very stable, and great for aerial shots. That's going to be a huge growth industry as soon as the FAA passes rules for commercial use.