The civil engineering industry is desperately wanting to use automated drone technology in the United States. Current unmanned vehicle laws from the Federal Aviation Administration have limited some of the automated operations that could be run on construction sites, which would perform site monitoring, mapping, and inspection. Now, they are updating the laws but have still left out amendments that would benefit the engineering companies.
Companies in the US that want to use drones, want to implement automated systems. Amazon and Alphabet have both engineered automated drone delivery systems that will not be able to fly under the new FAA regulations. Another regulation that could stunt the growth is the fact that drones would not be able to fly during the hours of the night.
The new laws demand that a drone must always be in "eyeshot" of the pilot controlling it. However, as more and more automated drone delivery systems are proposed, the FAA could alter these laws. This would mean that automated site mapping, monitoring or inspection drones are a pipe dream for now, but so long as a piloted inspection drone can be seen by its pilot, those seem to be allowed for now.
U.S. Transport Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the new regulations on the FAA's website, saying: "We are part of a new era in aviation, and the potential for unmanned aircraft will make it safer and easier to do certain jobs. We look forward to working with the aviation community to support innovation, while maintaining our standards as the safest and most complex airspace in the world."
The FAA says the new regulations could create up to 100,000 new jobs in the industry over the next 10 years. They also say that the money generated by companies using drone technology could top $82 billion, according to their industry estimates.
There are many other uses UAS's could be used for in the engineering community and now that the laws have been altered, those uses can finally come to fruition. However, the lack of support for the automation of those systems sets some industries back. Good news for drone operators whose employment is guaranteed until the FAA decides to review the law on a pilot being necessary.
Automated drones flying pre-planned paths is invaluable to civil engineering industries and the safety of those sites, as shown in this video below:
The new drone laws are summarized
Source: Federal Aviation Administration