The US Federal Aviation Administration just granted its approval for six film and TV production companies to use drones on set. This is just the second time the agency's approved the use of commercial UAVs, it's no surprise Hollywood was first in line.
"These companies are blazing a trail that others are already following, offering the promise of new advances in agriculture and utility safety and maintenance," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said on Thursday afternoon. "Today's announcement is a significant milestone in broadening commercial (drone) use."
News of Hollywood getting the green light to use drones for set was expected not a huge surprise. The FAA's been reviewing applications by various filmmaking outfits that want approval to use the low-cost aircraft on set. After all, it's a much cheaper alternative to the current practice of using aeroplanes and helicopters. And some directors are already doing it anyway; Martin Scorsese used a drone to film a scene in The Wolf of Wall Street a couple of years ago.
The FAA also indicated earlier this year that the first commercial uses for drones to be approved would likely be for movie-making, crop-monitoring, and inspecting oil pipelines — which was indeed the first type of permit granted. It certainly helps that movies are made in highly controlled environments where the risk of a drone hitting a commercial airline or falling out of the sky and hitting someone are lower.
At the end of the day, it's good to see the FAA making progress in regulating drones. It's been a bit chaotic for the little aircraft so far, and people are getting scared. That kind of thing gives a bad name for a technology that can actually do a lot of good.