Filed Under:Markets, Commercial Lines

Micro-drones to have their own rules of the road under FAA plan

A water drone demonstrates maritime salvage by flying a lifesaver to a boy in the water, at the world's largest watersports trade fair BOOT in Duesseldorf, Germany, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
A water drone demonstrates maritime salvage by flying a lifesaver to a boy in the water, at the world's largest watersports trade fair BOOT in Duesseldorf, Germany, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. government wants to create a new category of “micro” drones that are built with materials that won’t harm people in a crash, opening the door for more widespread uses in crowded places and other sensitive locations.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday announced the formation of an industry advisory panel to help it draft the requirements for micro drones, according to a press release.

New micro category won’t have a weight limit, so long as the devices can’t hurt people

“The department continues to be bullish on new technology,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the release. “We recognize the significant industry interest in expanding commercial access to the National Airspace System.”

The committee must finish its recommendations by April 1 in an attempt to speed the development of the new category, the agency said in the release. “The short deadline reinforces our commitment to a flexible regulatory approach that can accommodate innovation while maintaining today’s high levels of safety,” Foxx said.

Regulations in development

The FAA is separately finishing a set of regulations for other drones that still weigh less than 55 pounds (25 kilograms). The new micro category won’t have a weight limit, so long as the devices can’t hurt people.

Under current rules and those anticipated under the small-drone rule expected later this year, unmanned vehicles can’t be flown over people or near buildings and vehicles. The new category would allow for far more uses, both commercially and for recreation.

Related: Toy drones pose greater risk to planes than birds do, study says

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