Recreational drones as small as 9 ounces will have to be registered, but users should be able to go through the process online, with no fees, and the same registration number can be used for multiple drones: Those are among the reported recommendations emerging from last week’s meeting of a task force charged with proposing a registration system by Nov. 20.
The task force, which includes representatives from Amazon, Walmart, Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and other industry types as well as hobbyists, met in Washington under the auspices of the Federal Aviation Administration. It hasn’t yet issued any formal findings, but reports from The Associated Press, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal provide a consistent account of what was decided.
The FAA and the Department of Transportation want to hustle up the establishment of a registration system – in part because of some high-profile drone fails, and in part because so many of the small-scale flying vehicles are expected to be sold during the holiday season. By some accounts, there could be 700,000 drones in consumers’ hands by the end of the year. Transportation officials want to have a quick and easy way to find out who’s responsible for a remotely operated drone when something goes wrong.
One of the task force’s jobs was to suggest where to draw the line between drones that have to be registered and toys that can go unregistered. The line was reportedly set relatively low – at 250 grams, or a little less than 9 ounces. As a trade-off, the registration system would be made free and relatively simple: Users could enter their name and address through a government-sanctioned website or mobile app, and use the same registration number on all the drones they own. It’d be up to the users rather than the manufacturers to put those numbers on their drones so they’re legible.
Users who don’t register their drones properly could face federal penalties, which include fines or even prison terms. That’s stirring up concerns among some folks on Twitter, as you’d expect. Here’s a sampling:
— Matt Waite (@mattwaite) November 9, 2015
I'm surprised the FAA task force will recommend registering drones > 9 oz. Would have thought 3 or so pounds. https://t.co/ziL8kXyKGm
— Ryan Calo (@rcalo) November 6, 2015