The U.S. military has drones, lots of them if the daily reports coming in from Afghanistan and Pakistan are any indication. And a handful of law enforcement groups--though less than would like--have a drone or two at their disposal. But on the domestic, non-security front, drones live a in a regulatory gray area. Hobbyists can use them, but commercial entities are not supposed to employ drones for any kind of monetary gain, says the FAA.
Nonetheless News Corp's The Daily has a news gathering drone aircraft that it's been flying around, and the FAA is investigating that use to ensure that it complies with all of the nebulous FAA regulations that kind of exist regarding private drone usage.
The Daily has used its drone to capture aerial footage of storm-struck Alabama earlier this year as well as the flooding in South Dakota, Forbes tells us. Their hardware: a MicroDrone md4-1000, a micro aerial vehicle that can be fitted with various imagery or sensor payloads (Google has one like it, purportedly to augment its aerial map data).
The question for the FAA, then, is whether or not new gathering (or aerial cartography, for that matter) is considered a commercial exercise. Seems like it would be, but given that the FAA is reportedly considering loosening its drone aircraft restrictions later this year anyhow, The Daily may just get the green light anyhow, opening up a potentially really cool new high-tech means of reporting the daily news.
That would be great news for The Daily, which happens to belong to the same media family as the News of the World which recently collapsed under shady phone hacking allegations. Of course, all of this information is unrelated, because it's not like you can use a drone to hack a cell phone. Right?
I want one of these so I can keep an eye on the kids while they play in our couple of acres of land.
Unless The Daily is a non-profit institution, I'd like to know how it's not commercial use, I'd think it's pretty clearly commercial. They sell the photos as part of their product, and if they're like other news businesses, it's possible they resell the photos in syndication.
I have been working with Drones like these for several years. I own a forum to discus such topics as these.. I really think this is just sensationalizing the subject. Please check out MiKroKopter.US if you want the real scoop or come interview me about this topic.
There is no wording anywhere in any FAA document that I can find that references the use or non use for commercial gain..
It is not a Grey area you are talking about a Recommendation made a long time ago and there is nothing on the books I can find restricting this use. The Units I fly are not fully autonomous and must stay in range of a standard RC radio.
This is nothing you could not do with a standard RC airplane or Helicopter. Its just that they look new and strange to us and everyone gets panicky.
Please if there is such a document please let me know, I've been searching for two years on that subject.
Please stop the sensationalizing..
Its not a grey area, its illegal.
The NPRM will hopefully happen later this year and only after that will the integration into NAS happen.
Well darn if it's illegal then I have almost thirty years of charges headed my way. I've been placing items such as all sorts of still and video cameras onto all sorts of aerial platforms... Cameras onto (very large) kites, (frequently - estes) rockets, balloons, and yes even airplanes and multi-rotor types of helicopters.
Naturally it gets better. I've done so under law enforcement observation and even with FAA present. I even have FAA "blessing" on official gov letterhead, and also carry copies of all FAA regulations with me when doing this type of work. As long as it is done safely it is in fact breaking no laws in the united states of america. The only liability one faces is if the "aerial platform" either directlly causes an accident or is involved in one.
To conclude. I'm a career full time professional photographer and have been including this in my line of work for almost some three decades. No problems (or legal conflicts) in doing it - simply use common sense and education.
I searched for this regulation and this is the best that I could find. Here is a quote from this notice.
"The FAA has issued five experimental certificates for unmanned aircraft systems for the purposes of research and
development, marketing surveys, or crew training. UAS issued experimental certificates may not be used for compensation or hire."
The last line is what I believe that this story is referring to.
The California Film Commission have a pretty clear take on it.....
After a thorough investigation researching Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) policies and advisories regarding the commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) the CFC will no longer issue any film or still photography permits that intend to use such UAS as part of the filming equipment. Any remote controlled airborne devices either carrying photographic equipment of any kind used for commercial purposes or flying to be photographed for still or film commercial purposes is not yet regulated and therefore not authorized by the FAA.
I met a New York Telephone repairman who told me that when the technicians go on break, they take their telephones with alligator clips down to the switching center and listen in to private conversations.
He didn't mention if the information overheard was used to make money on the side, but why else would they do it? Not to check the quality of the lines I imagine.
Why don't the cattle ranchers use this drone technology to get videos of the aliens mutilating our cattle and seals?
I believe the relevant order is 8130.34A
The section people are continually misquoting is this:
"f. Operation Exceptions. No person may operate this UA to carry property for compensation or hire (§ 91.319(a)(2))."
It specifically forbids carrying property for hire. (Freight carrier). There are no other prohibitions in the document with reference to use in commerce.
That out of the way, this document isn't targeting "everything that can fly and has a camera attached". It discusses autonomous unmanned aircraft that is intended to operate in airspace and facilities trafficked by piloted aircraft, and its heavy handed restrictions are to ensure that operation in that environment is reasonably limited, and done safely.
Operating the Microdrone in the classic RC mode, where line of sight is maintained with the operator in full control (non autonomous), and the vehicle is not in a position to interfere with piloted aircraft does not qualify it as a UAS, and such operation is not governed by the rule. If that were the case, nobody, anywhere in the country, would be able to fly their model RC aircraft. That entire industry would be grounded.