U.S. government to require that hobbyists register their drones
Federal officials plan to announce on Monday that all drones will have to be registered with the U.S. Transportation Department, Fortune has learned.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and F.A.A. Administrator Michael Huerta will hold a press conference in Washington D.C. to explain the government’s plans to create a new registration system that all drone buyers will be required to use, according to a source familiar with the situation.
The plan adds hobbyists to those who must register their drones with the government. Previously, only commercial drone users had to register their aircraft with the F.A.A. after getting the authorization to fly.
The registration initiative comes after a number of high-profile incidents involving drones including a man who flew one too close to a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter during an investigation and a drone that crash landed at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in September. Privacy advocates have also expressed concern that drones outfitted with cameras could be used to spy on people.
Drone industry leaders from trade groups and manufacturers will join government officials during the announcement. The plan calls for creating a task force that includes members of the government and the drone industry to create the registry, the source said.
The initiative to create a centralized system for collecting drone registrations has been in the works for the past few weeks. Government officials have been contacting drone makers and industry groups about it over the past few days, the source said.
The drone registration system is supposed to be debut around the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Transportation Department declined to comment on the specifics of the announcement to Fortune, but confirmed that the department will “make an important safety announcement about the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems” on Monday.
It’s unclear what penalties drone owners will face for failing to register their aircraft. Nor is it clear whether all drones must be registered or just ones that are beyond a certain size.
Michael Drobac, the executive director of the Small U.A.V. Coalition, a drone advocacy group whose members include Google, Amazon, and camera maker GoPro (GPRO), told Fortune that he is concerned with the proposed regulations. Both Amazon (AMZN) and Google (GOOG) are working on drones for delivering products ordered online to customers’ doorsteps.
“I have great concerns that the F.A.A. and D.O.T. won’t come up with something that will help us move us forward as a country in advancing this technology on their own,” Drobac said. “This has to be led by industry.”
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