As drones become a more common sight overhead, the government has started to think more and more about how to protect the skies. At CES 2017, the Federal Aviation Administration revealed that it is researching new ways to detect and defend against drones.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta took to the stage in Las Vegas to discuss new technologies designed to spot unauthorized unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operating near important areas, with an emphasis on airports.
According to Huerta, the organization has already tested some of its systems in busy airports in New York and Denver and smaller locales like Atlantic City. Later this year, the FAA plans to extend it tests at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Data and observations gathered during the testing period will be utilized to draft recommendations for policies and guidelines that will eventually help to inform airports across the nation who may consider installing drone defense systems.
The emphasis on airports is of particular interest to the FAA as pilots have reported a rapid increase in drone sightings. A report issued by the administration in March 2016 noted sightings had “increased dramatically since 2014.” Those numbers have continued to rise, Heurta revealed at CES, with about 1,800 reported sightings in 2016 compared to 1,200 in 2015.
That number will likely continue to rise as drones continue to become a more permanent feature in the skies.
In August of 2016, the FAA set into effect its new rules regulating UAVs that requires drones weighing over 0.55 pounds to be registered with the organization. The rules also opened up the possibility for commercial drone usage.
Since the regulations were implemented, more than 30,000 people have applied to become certified drone pilots. Over half of those registered took the required exam, with 90 percent of them passing, according to Huerta.
In total, the FAA has registered more than 670,000 drone operators—including an influx of 37,000 new registrants in the final two weeks of December. A forecast published by the FAA projected a total of 7 million drones sold in the U.S. by 2020.
For the FAA, the biggest challenge is figuring out how to integrate those flying vehicles into the skies. The regulatory body plans to create regulations for allowing drone operations to take place over the head of uninvolved people.
Source: Yahoo News