Drone Regulations Are Continuing to Fall Into Place

September 25, 2017

11:30 am

Drones are one of the most easily recognizable tech advancements. While VR, AR, and every single type of AI out there are all software, drones can be seen zooming around scaring the squirrels in your local parks. And since they’re interacting with the physical world, they’ve attracted the attention of the Federal Aviation Administration. Which has, naturally, started to lay down the law.

Here’s a look at the different ways drone regulations are tightening, each example using a recent new hooks to explain it.

State and Local Regulations Are Going Up

Last week, one more law was added to the list, this time in South Sioux City.

“According to the ordinance, drones must remain within 400 feet of the ground, within the eyesight of the operator, during daylight hours and only over property for which the drone operator has permission to fly over. Drone flying would be banned near airports, electric facilities and wires, and water intake facilities. Violations carry a $500 fine,” the Sioux City Journal reports.

The law is typical of local drone regulations, establishing the distance drones can fly upwards and keeping them within eyesight of their operator, a death blow to deliver drones everywhere. But these local regulations might not stick around.

But Federal Regulations Could Overturn Them

Also last week, a federal judge dealt with an overbearing drone law applying to Newton, Massachusetts, setting a precedent for prioritizing federal drone law over state and local governments’ ordinances.

“A federal judge struck down a Newton, Massachusetts, ordinance regulating drone operations in the city, holding that the ordinance was preempted based on Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) regulations and federal statutes,” legal news site Lexology notes.


“Saying the ordinance “essentially constitutes a wholesale ban on drone use” and was an “interven[tion] in the FAA’s careful regulation of aircraft safety,” District Judge William G. Young reaffirmed the FAA’s broad jurisdiction over drones (also known as unmanned aircraft systems or “UAS”) in national airspace.”

If nothing else, the news means that drone owners won’t have to worry about keeping up with a massive network of different laws and regulations. But as the FAA continues to develop its own regulations, it’s likely any complaints drone owners may have offered in response to local or state laws will simply continue to apply to the federal ones as well.


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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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