American Robotics drones allowed to fly no on-site human operators

JC Torres - Jan 17, 2021, 9:10pm CST
American Robotics drones allowed to fly no on-site human operators

Drones have been a controversial topic in the aviation industry, with regulators still on the fence about approving these unmanned aerial vehicles for commercial use. The pandemic, however, may have made the need for drones, which reduced the need for human contact, even more urgent. While the US Federal Aviation Administration has given its green light for the use of many drones, those came with rather hard requirements when it came to the involvement of humans. Now the FAA has lifted that restriction for one drone maker, removing the need for having a human nearby.

Although the FAA has approved the use of some drones, it is required that there should at least be human visual observers to keep eyes on the drone along its flight path. Although many professional and industrial drones these days have automated obstacle detection and avoidance, humans are still required to ensure that drones don’t collide with other aircraft during their operation. This requirement is far from the ideal of remote operation nor is it financially feasible because of human resource costs.

American Robotics is, therefore, naturally proud that it is the first to be granted by the FAA a special waiver to operate drones Beyond Visual Line of Sight or BVLOS of an operator. Almost everything about the drone will be automated, from its take-off to its descent, even when there are no humans around. The company is confident that its “layered, redundant” safety systems will be enough to guarantee that its Scout drones will not pose a risk both to other aircraft in the air as well as humans on the ground.

That said, it’s still not completely free of human intervention as each flight still requires a human to inspect the drone. That said, that can be done remotely even if it can’t yet be automated completely.

Additionally, the permission that the FAA is giving is limited to specific locations in the US, so don’t expect these drones to be swarming the skies everywhere, at least not yet. The agency is using American Robotics’ experience and data to further evaluate BVLOS drone operations that could become the normal way drones operate in the future.


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