New Rules for Drones May Help in the Field

Market to Market | Clip
Jul 8, 2022 | 2 min

By law, drone pilots must be able to see their aerial vehicles from lift-off to touchdown…that is until now. 


David Miller: Crop scouting with a drone isn’t a new concept. Pilots have been sending their unmanned aerial systems into the air over rural America for almost a decade. By law, the pilot must be able to see their aerial vehicles from lift-off to touchdown…that is until now. 

As of early July, 230 waivers have been granted by the FAA allowing drones to fly out of line of sight of their pilots. These include inspection of high-voltage power lines, tracking of endangered sea turtles and inspection of railroad lines from New Jersey to points in the West. But the new rule may have far reaching implications for agriculture. 

Arthur Erickson is the CEO of Hylio, a company that creates turn-key UAV solutions for autonomous crop spraying.

Arthur Erickson, CEO Hylio: "Like a lot of new industries, uh, the regulations are, I would say about 15 or 20 years behind where the technology actually is. And by that, I mean, 15 years ago, when the FAA made these, these regulations, they treated drones a lot like they treat just traditional manned aviation. But nowadays, drones are so advanced and so robust and intelligent that it makes a lot of sense to allow them to just go out and operate without pilot intervention. There's about four or five big regulations that we're kind of all waiting for by we, I mean the drone industry to, to pass or, or become looser for lack of a better word. And like every time you, you actually get one of these regulations overturned by the FAA or allowed as in like allowing flight beyond visual line of sight. It opens the fire hose up like a little bit more, fire hose being like demand to buy like ag drones or spray drones."

Miller: The FAA is still reviewing how it will roll out routine operations although it has signaled permission will be reserved for commercial applications and not hobbyists.

For Market to Market, I’m David Miller.