Drones are a new and scary thing, at least for the government. It's such a feared technology that the FAA is going to put the kibosh on any plans for online retailers to have same-hour drone delivery in the future.
New federal laws are expected to be passed to restrict the operation of a commercial drone. While nothing is actually official yet, several people who are tied in with the committee for these rules have given out some information on what those rules might be. For starters, operators of these drones will have to have a license to pilot manned aircraft. Flights will be limited to daytime hours only, you must keep the aircraft below 400 feet and, here's the kicker, the drone must remain within the sight of the operator. I'd be curious to know if being able to see the drone through an Internet-based camera would suffice as being within sight of the operator.
Sources also said that identifying the type of aircraft would be key to restricting which drones fall into which categories. For instance, the FAA is rumored to group every drone under 55 pounds into one category and one set of guidelines. This would put the super-tiny drones under 3 pounds in with the bigger guys.
Of course, privacy concerns and other hang-ups are the topic of discussion when it comes to these devices, however many argue that the rules could be too restrictive and yet again step on the innovation in this space. Add to that the requirement that one must have a license in manned aircraft and it severely limits who can operate these devices. Again, these rules would be for commercial drones only, but they could also be used as a stepping stone to more restrictions on personal use of the same aircraft.
It is being said that the FAA should be a proposal by the end of the year and a public period for comments and concerns would follow that, similar to what we saw with Net Neutrality.