Over the past few months, we’ve seen drones used for all sorts of bizarre endeavors. Whether it’s a drone with an attached flamethrower roasting a turkey or a drone being used to deliver Chipotle burritos to lucky college students, there’s no denying that the world of the future will be filled with UAVs.
That being the case, there’s no reason why drones can’t be used for the greater good in addition to being used for quirky activities. Putting this idea into practice, UPS recently began testing the idea of using drones as a means to deliver emergency medical supplies in areas where in-person delivery would either be impossible or would take too long.
Recently, UPS had a drone test run off the coast of Massachusets where it had a drone take off from a town just north of Boston and deliver a package to Children’s Island. Of course, in order for UPS’ initiative to become a reality, it will first have to convince the FAA to loosen up some of the restrictions that currently govern non-commercial drone usage.
Originally released this past June, current FAA regulations dictate that non-commercial drones must weigh less than 55 pounds, can’t be flown at night or at a height greater than 400 feet and must always remain within eyesight of the drone operator. Some drone operators, including UPS, are now hoping to receive exemptions to some of these regulations.
Drone makers, retailers and package delivery companies are now angling for waivers, largely to operate out of the line of sight, using small tests to collect data on everything from air speed to operating in bad weather and the frequency of accidents.
To obtain an FAA waiver exempting them from certain rules, companies must spell out a business case and use data to prove their drones are safe.
The FAA is said to be moving slowly to grant waivers to anyone, so it will interesting to see how this all plays out.