In the biggest approval of commercial drone use to date, a tiny UAV startup got the OK from the Federal Aviation Administration last week to fly its fleet of 324 types of drones in the sky for "aerial data acquisition".
Called Measure, the startup says it's the first Washington, DC company to get FAA approval for commercial drone flights, and that it's the "only company with permission to fly more than 300 different types of drones" for commercial purposes.
While companies still can't use drones to deliver goods to consumers yet (sorry, Amazon), there are companies out there who want to use drones to help farmers more efficiently grow crops, or to aid first responders in search-and-rescue. That data-over-delivery focus no doubt helped Measure get that FAA approval.
So, does that mean DC residents are going to see DJI Phantoms swooping around in their backyard, filming them? Not exactly. The FAA's letter of approval sets of limitations, like: no filming TV or movies, no flying at night, no flying damaged units that could hurt someone. Plus, operators need a pilot's licence, and flight operations "must be conducted at least 500 feet (152m) from all nonparticipating persons, vessels, vehicles and structures."
It's much more likely that Measure will use their newfound freedom in sectors like agriculture, which has been one of the company's main goals. We'll see what new laws might pop up as more companies get permission to fly drones for other uses.