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In December 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it would utilize six states to act as research sites for drones, or unmanned aircraft.  Those states included New York, Texas, Virginia, North Dakota, Alaska and Nevada.

For now, or at least until the end of 2015, when the FAA expects to have “operational guidelines,” the commercial use of drones is banned.  The FAA limits drone use, citing “safety of the national airspace.”  The FAA has been sending “cease-and-desist” letters to those suspected of violating its policy.

One group, Texas EquuSearch, started using small drones in 2006 to find missing people.  The FAA ordered the group to stop in February 2013.

In March 2014, an administrative law judge found that the FAA “had no authority over small unmanned aircraft” after it executed the “first-ever” fine on a drone operator.
The FAA vowed to appeal.

Delivery by Drone?

The CEO and founder of “Flirtey,” an unmanned aircraft company in Australia, looks at drones as a technology of the future.  Matthew Sweeny told WUSA9 that drones fly “below commercial airspace” which would take away the risk factor of drones hitting any type of commercial aircraft.

Amazon first broached the subject of drone delivery in December 2013 with its first mention of “PrimeAir” and deliveries “directly to your doorstep” that could happen as soon as the FAA rules change.

Amazon released a letter to shareholders on April 10, 2014, giving an update on its “fast delivery,” and that, “The Prime Air team is already flight testing our 5th and 6th generation aerial vehicles, and we are in the design phases on generations 7 and 8.”

In February 2014, the FAA banned Lakemaid, a brewery in Minnesota from testing a drone delivery system to send beer to fishermen.

Google announced on April 14, 2014 that it purchased “Titan Aerospace,” which is a company that makes “high-altitude, solar-powered drones.”  These drones are part of an initiative to “find ways of delivering Internet service to underserved areas, particularly in the developing world.”  Titan Aerospace drones are used for monitoring crops, helping with search and rescue, and delivering data.

Drone Use & FAA Projections

The FAA predicts a positive economic outlook with the approval of commercial drones, with an estimate of the creation of more than 100,000 jobs.

Some law enforcement agencies use drones during emergency situations, but several states have passed anti-drone bills, most of them surrounding privacy issues to set limits on data.

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