The U.S. Department of Transportation proposed a new set of rules for drones that would allow the unmanned vehicles to fly over populated areas and operate at night. If adopted, the changes could ease drone use for towers and lessen dangers of climbing at night.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Monday the time is right. “Drones … are well on their way to mainstream deployment,” she told attendees of the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board, reported Dronelife.
Drones flying after twilight would need to have an anti-collision light that would make it visible for at least three miles, according to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Pilots operating a drone at night would also have to undergo knowledge testing and training before being cleared to fly, reported Engadget.
Chao said the NPRM would be listed in the Federal Register “as soon as possible,” according to Dronelife. The comment period is open for 60 days after publication.
The proposal suggests that unmanned aircrafts weighing less than 0.55 pounds could fly over populated areas without restrictions. Drones weighing more than that would require proof from a manufacturer that a malfunction wouldn’t cause severe injury if the drone crashed into a person. Larger drones also would not be allowed to fly overhead if they have exposed rotating parts or if they have any known safety defects.
January 17, 2019