By Rob Philbrick
The United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General released a national report last month finding that 84% of people surveyed expect drone deliveries to occur within the next ten years. Leading the international charge, Domino’s Pizza has already launched commercial drone deliveries in New Zealand. Assuming the resolution of various U.S. regulatory and socio-technical problems, it may be commonplace by the year 2030 for items to be shipped autonomously, up in the sky. In such a future, a breakfast ruined for lack of bacon is only a short drone flight away from remedy. So, as promised: flying pigs.
However, what appears to not be on the U.S.’s technology-dependent horizon is ubiquitous nationwide online election voting. What explains this?
By Jessy Nations
Sometime during the past decade or so we started taking the idea of making robots a part of our everyday lives more seriously. Naturally, we went from joking about making machines serve us by doing our menial chores, to teaching them to kill. Once our base needs for violence and subservience were satisfied, we quickly began adapting this technology for the highest, noblest, and most human of all endeavors: bothering our neighbors. Meanwhile, our local legislatures are trying to rein these nuisances in and we have to work with seemingly outdated common law theories until they’re finished.
I’m talking, of course, about small flying robots known as drones. What was once the pinnacle of modern robotics – despite being a glorified RC helicopter with a camera – is now available from the corner 711 for $30. (No seriously. I’ve almost bought one out of curiosity.)
By Brooks Lindsay
This blog post follows up on an article I wrote for the Washington Journal of Law, Technology and Arts for the Spring 2015 issue. I submitted the article as a comment to the FAA on behalf of the UW College of Engineering. The article, titled “Drone Drain,” suggested the FAA be forward-looking with its draft unmanned aerial vehicle (UAS) rules. This blog post attempts to assess the FAA’s work since then.
Since the end of the comment period, the FAA created registration rules for drones weighing between .55 lbs and 55 lbs. This is an important step in the maturation of drone law because, like with cars, the identification of a drone after an accident is critical for victims to bring tort claims or the government to press charges for a misdemeanor or felony. If people don’t know who crashed a drone, then they can’t hold that registered person legally accountable. Without accountability, UAS pilots might feel emboldened to take risks without fear of legal consequences. Registration rules cut through this cycle and facilitate the maturation of a legal ecosystem for drones. Continue reading
By Danielle Olero
The vintage cartoon, The Jetsons, inspired many to predict there would be flying cars by the year 2000. But amongst our many modern conveniences, flying to work in a car has not been an option. People may not have invented flying cars by the turn of the century, but we may be closer than we ever imagined. Many people use drones to carry packages, take videos, diffuse bombs, and now they can carry you. Continue reading
By Max Burke
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Sunday released proposed rules for small commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)—also known as drones or unmanned aircraft vehicles. The rules would apply to non-recreational UAS under 55 pounds and would, among other things, limit flights to daylight hours and altitudes of less than 500 feet. A drone operator, with the help of visual observers, would need to maintain visual line of sight of the drone. And an operator would also “have to be at least 17 years old, pass an aeronautical knowledge test and obtain an FAA UAS operator certificate.” (See a summary of the proposed requirements here and the full proposal here.)
Currently, the FAA effectively bans commercial use of drones. Pursuant to section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA), the FAA authorizes such use only on a case-by-case basis; a limited number of companies have been given authorization since September 2014. The proposed rules—which were made pursuant to the FMRA—are supposed to be the next phase in expanding commercial drone use. The FAA lists a number of UAS activities that would be allowed under the proposed framework, including crop monitoring, research and development, power-line inspections, aerial photography, and aiding certain rescue operations. Anyone can submit comments on the proposed rules to the FAA for up to 60 days after the rules are published in the Federal Register. Unfortunately, promulgation of permanent rules is not expected until 2017, nearly two years after the deadline mandated by Congress in the FMRA. Continue reading