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US Approves Drones for Bringing Orders to People’s Homes

    2021-1-1

    The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently said it is issuing long-awaited rules that permit small drones to fly at night and over people. Drones, a kind of small aircraft, fly without a pilot.

    The FAA’s move is an important step toward the use of drones for large numbers of business deliveries in the United States.

    Walmart's drone delivery system is shown during a demonstration of the system. (Walmart)
    Walmart's drone delivery system is shown during a demonstration of the system. (Walmart)

    The FAA is also requiring identification of most drones for security and safety reasons.

    Deliveries

    FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement that the new rules “get us closer to the day when we will more routinely see drone operations such as the delivery of packages.”

    Packages are boxes or large envelopes that are sent or delivered.

    Since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, companies have raced to create drone fleets to speed deliveries.

    Delivery companies like UPS and Amazon have been investing in the technology for years. Both companies have seen growing profits during the coronavirus pandemic as more Americans turn to home delivery for many products, including groceries.

    The rules also come at a time when drones represent the fastest-growing area in the transportation sector, an FAA Press Release Statement said.

    The statement added that there are over 1.7 million drone registrations and 203,000 FAA-approved remote pilots in the United States.

    Safety and Security Concerns

    For night operations, the FAA said drones must have special lights that help the aircraft avoid accidents. Remote ID, a form of identification, is required for all drones weighing around 250 grams or more. But, it is required for smaller drones in some situations. The Remote ID rule requires drones to broadcast ID messages via radio.

    Companies Seek Approval for Drone Deliveries

    The FAA’s new rules are the latest in a series of policies about drone use for deliveries. In October 2019, United Parcel Service Inc. said that it won the U.S. government’s first full approval to operate a drone airline.

    Last year, Alphabet’s Wing, a sister company of search engine Google, was the first to get U.S. air carrier approval for a single-pilot drone operation. In August, Amazon’s drone service received federal approval. The approval lets the company begin testing business deliveries through its drone fleet.

    The new FAA rules will become official 60 days after publication next month. Drone manufacturers will have 18 months to begin producing drones with Remote ID, while drone operators have an additional year to begin using drones with Remote ID.

    I’m John Russell.

    David Shepardson reported on this story for Reuters. John Russell adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor. _____________________________________________________________

    Words in This Story

    delivery n. the act of taking something to a person or place

    routinely – adv. done very often

    sector – n. an area of an economy : a part of an economy that includes certain kinds of jobs

    remote – adj. capable of being controlled from a distance: connected to a computer system from another place: