Federal officials said they would allow operators to fly small drones over people and at night, which could give a boost to the commercial use of the machines.
Most drones will need to be equipped in order for them to be recognized remotely by law enforcement officials.
Federal Aviation Administration Director Stephen Dickson said the final rules announced by the Federal Aviation Administration on Monday “bring us closer to the day when we will routinely see drone operations such as package delivery.”
Drones are the fastest-growing segment of all transportation, with more than 1.7 million registered, according to the Department of Transportation.
However, widespread commercial use of machines developed much more slowly than many advocates had anticipated. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos once predicted that his company would use drones to deliver goods to customers’ doorsteps within five years, but that prediction has already stalled for two years..
There have been many tests and limited uses. United Parcel Service said last year it had secured approval to operate a fleet of drones nationwide He has already performed hundreds of deliveries on a North Carolina hospital campus.
Also last year, Google’s sister company Wing Aviation received FAA approval for commercial drone flights In the corner of Virginia.
And last August, Amazon won a similar approval from the Federal Aviation Administration To deliver parcels by drones. The company is still testing the service and hasn’t said when shoppers will see deliveries.
For drone backers who are impatient with the pace of adoption, regulatory hurdles are the main complaint. Currently, operators who want to fly a drone over people or at night need a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The new rules will require that drones used at night have bright lights that can be seen from three miles away. The operators will need special training. Small drones flying over people cannot have rotating parts capable of cutting skin.
The rules covering over-person and overnight flights apply to approximately two months. They are finalizing proposed rules that were released last year.
All drones that must be registered with the FAA will be required to have equipment that broadcast their identification, location and control station or are in operation in areas recognized by the FAA. The so-called remote identity was a requirement imposed by Congress at the urging of national security and law enforcement agencies.
Drone manufacturers will have 18 months to start building drones with remote ID, and operators will have one year after that to start using drones with remote ID.