FAA Rules Should Spur Drone Experiments - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
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2/17/2015
03:31 PM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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FAA Rules Should Spur Drone Experiments

IT should take the proposed FAA rules as an invitation to get companies exploring how to use drones and similar semi-autonomous gadgets.

 =CES 2015: 11 Peeks Into The Future
CES 2015: 11 Peeks Into The Future
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

So, who's in charge of drone strategy at your company?

With the FAA's newly proposed guidelines for the US commercial use of drones, we have a sense of what's likely to be allowed and what's to be banned near-term when people use small drones on the job. Overall the rules would give companies a lot of room to experiment with drones under 55 pounds.

The most-restrictive proposal would require employees to see the drone they're operating at all times (a buzz-kill for would-be Amazon drone deliveries) and operate only during the day. On the lenient side, employees wouldn't need a pilot's license to operate drones, only to pass a test an "FAA knowledge test" every two years. Here are a few of the other proposed rules:

  • Flights can't go above 500 feet or faster than 100 mph (100 mph!)
  • Drones can only fly over people directly involved in the flight
  • Operators must stay clear of airports and restricted airspace

The FAA is seeking comment on these rules, including whether or when to allow flights beyond line-of-sight. It's also considering less restrictive rules for drones under 4.4 pounds. 

Creative IT pros should see drones as just another amazing node out on the Internet of Things, and another ticket to obliterate boundaries around traditional IT. Someone at your company will do clever things with drones. Why not you and your team?

(Image: Don McCullough via Flickr)

(Image: Don McCullough via Flickr)

At InformationWeek, we think drone strategy is so important for IT leaders that we've asked Chris Anderson -- CEO of 3D Robotics, author, and former editor-in-chief of Wired magazine -- to kick off our annual InformationWeek Conference, April 27 and 28 in Las Vegas. He'll discuss drones and more broadly where automation is headed.

IT leaders can help their companies think about drones well beyond the small helicopters and planes the FAA is looking to regulate. Drone strategy can include a range of autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles -- things that roll along train tracks, float on rivers and oceans, or steer around parking lots, store aisles, or orchards.

Camera-equipped drones open up huge possibilities for tasks like quick inspections that have been dangerous or time consuming. GE Software VP Bill Ruh, in discussing where the Internet of Things is headed, called video "the most underutilized sensor in the industrial market," and drones offer a new way to collect that visual data. And once we have data, IT's skills in integrating, analyzing, and securing information become essential.

We're humans, so we can't help but be dazzled by drones because they fly. Who doesn't want to fly? But there's a broader consumerization story with this phase of drone development and regulation. Semi-autonomous or even autonomous vehicles -- whether they fly, roll, or float -- that were practical only for highly specialized uses like factory and warehouse automation will become affordable and practical for much more everyday uses.

Do you have a creative drone initiative to share? Drop me an email or Tweet to discuss.

Attend Interop Las Vegas, the leading independent technology conference and expo series designed to inspire, inform, and connect the world's IT community. In 2015, look for all new programs, networking opportunities, and classes that will help you set your organization’s IT action plan. It happens April 27 to May 1. Register with Discount Code MPOIWK for $200 off Total Access & Conference Passes.

Chris Murphy is editor of InformationWeek and co-chair of the InformationWeek Conference. He has been covering technology leadership and CIO strategy issues for InformationWeek since 1999. Before that, he was editor of the Budapest Business Journal, a business newspaper in ... View Full Bio
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SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
2/25/2015 | 2:43:18 PM
Re: Getting down to business
I have yet to see Smart Traffic Lights in my city (I think they are already installing data centres for proper controlling the lights) but I am quite hyped up about the traffic lights working without any supervision. Again, this needs security as a simple hack can cause multiple accidents. 
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
2/25/2015 | 2:40:43 PM
Re: Having a tough job
Priority resolving can be achieved using a First Call First Serves fashion. The drone can be called to an area where there are multiple dropoffs, but then if the packages are not in order the drone follows the normal route and delivers the package at a delay. Therefore customers are warned if they choose the package to be delivered somewhere, there might be a delay.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
2/25/2015 | 2:36:51 PM
Re: FAA Rules Should Spur Drone Experiments
@sachinEE: taht can be a very real situation and needs proper mitigation. I don't trust the drone delivery systems fully, mainly because I haven't still seen a fully functional delivery system. People will get comfortable with this technology once they see it.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
2/25/2015 | 2:21:35 PM
Re: FAA Rules Should Spur Drone Experiments
@impactnow: And who stops drones from being stolen? Should drones be equipped with anti theft tools (like a gun maybe?) and who ensures they wouldn't get hacked and use the tools on normal people?
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Author
2/25/2015 | 12:37:50 PM
Re: FAA Rules Should Spur Drone Experiments

That's exactly the concern I have, technology is far from infallible and how do we prevent people from being injured or even killed by a malfunctioning drone. As we can see from the recent drone trip to the white house it would be impossible to stop a drone that is malfunctioning without drastic measures.

SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
2/23/2015 | 1:28:28 PM
Re: FAA Rules Should Spur Drone Experiments
@yalanand: We all know that drones are inevitable, but why not make it safer for people? AI systems are advanced enough to control and monitor drones, but what if that turns on against us? I'm not talking about Terminator-esque situations, I'm talking about what if the AI malfunctions and brings the drone down, suppose on a busy market place?
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
2/23/2015 | 1:26:41 PM
Re: Having a tough job
@yalanand: nice system but again, this can backfire because the drone may not have sky area permissions where the customer wants his/her package delivered. Also it has many other problems like priority resolving. Suppose a customer sets a location where he wants his package delivered at place A and the drone has to deliver 5 more packages at place A but the priority is after dropping the package to the customer the drone is called by another customer who has set the location at place B. This would create much much confusion.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
2/23/2015 | 1:17:24 PM
Re: Getting down to business
@Kelly22: About the IOT driven traffic lights, most cities that are undergoing major change under the canopy of the term "smart city" are using such systems for better and smarter management of rush hour traffic, and also minimizing traffic police and general public casualties in the process.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
2/23/2015 | 1:14:28 PM
Re: Getting down to business
@Kelly22: Yes we do, but not at this level. Drone delivery has had as much as controversy as the trial of creation of an artificial blackhole at CERN. If a technology can kill, then it is up for debate. Moreover this has been under more controversy of late is because the details of this technology is open to the public. 
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Strategist
2/23/2015 | 10:58:06 AM
Re: Getting down to business
Exactly. Granted, it would be best to not have to worry about a drone killing anyone and avoiding a lawsuit completely... but these are risks we have to consider when talking about new technologies like that.
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