Looking Ahead to Drones

Looking Ahead to Drones

Looking Ahead to Drones. I'm Greg Martin with today's Line On Agriculture.

Commercial use of drones - including in agriculture - may still be a ways off. The FAA is well behind schedule in drawing up rules for the remote-controlled aircraft. Congress legalized commercial drone use in 2012 and directed the FAA to come up with rules and standards for safe use of drones by September next year. But an agency audit says the FAA has so many hurdles in addressing safety that it's unclear when - or if - drones can be integrated into U.S. airspace. Nearly two-dozen civilian drones have been in accidents since 2009. Gretchen West with the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

WEST: I think it's a lack of resources. This is a fairly new technology and there's still a lot of work that has to be done by the standards bodies. Privacy is an issue but it's not the purview of the FAA so that's not, really the only reason for the delays.

Current rules allow public agencies - like USDA and the military - to use drones - though the EPA has stirred controversy with its use of surveillance drones in the Midwest. The FAA still plans to propose rules for small drones this year with a lengthy comment period to follow and says it may relax restrictions in coming months for use on large-scale farms.

WEST:  The exception process can be applied for farmers as well so farmers can apply to receive this exception assuming that the FAA works out the process and does start approving these exemptions, this could apply to the farming industry as well.

That's today's Line On Agriculture. I'm Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network.

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