The FAA approves first commercial drone flights without a pilot on-site

But a remote human pilot still needs to do pre-flight safety checks.

American Robotics

Farms and other farms in certain rural areas in the U.S. can now use robotic drones to take pictures or collect data, the FAA has to American Robotics of Massachusetts approved application to use automated drones without human pilots and spotters on site. As the Wall Street Journal notes, commercial drone flights typically require the physical presence of licensed pilots to make them an expensive endeavor. AR’s machine eliminates the need for on-site personnel, although any automated flight must still be monitored by a remote human pilot.

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According to relevant documents (via The Verge), the FAA has on its website The Pilot Off-Airplane, must perform security checks prior to the flight to ensure that the drone is in perfect condition. American Robotics drones are 20-pound machines that run on Scout System technology that uses predetermined paths. Scout also has a detection and avoidance feature that allows the unmanned aircraft system to maintain a safe distance from other aircraft, birds, and obstacles while in the air, the UAS can stay in a weatherproof base station for charging, data processing/analysis, and data transmission.

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The company won the FAA’s trust by testing its technology in eight states for four years – last year it flew up to 10 autonomous flights a day to collect agricultural images and other data. AR’s drones can currently only fly in rural areas in Kansas, Massachusetts, and Nevada and at altitudes below 400 feet. The company believes, however, that this is only the beginning and that it is ushering in “a new era of widespread automated drone operations.”

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American Robotics CEO Reese Mozer said in a statement:

A new era of widespread automated drone operations. Decades of promise and projection are finally coming to fruition. We are proud to be the first company to comply with the comprehensive safety requirements of the FAA, which had previously restricted the feasibility of using drones in the commercial sector. We are grateful for the FAA’s willingness to work closely with American Robotics over the past four years on this landmark authorization. With this set of approvals, American Robotics can safely begin operating our automated Scout platform for the benefit of energy, market vertical infrastructure, agriculture, and security, helping to unlock the projected $ 100 commercial drone market. billion.

Engadget / TechConflict.Com

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