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The Associated Press reports that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) "announced the creation of a new category of aviation rules designed specifically for drones weighing less than 55 pounds. The long-anticipated rules mean commercial operators can fly drones without special permission ... Under the new rules, operators would register their drones online, pass an aviation knowledge exam for drone pilots at an FAA-approved testing center and then they’re good to go. That’s a big change since operators currently have to have a manned aircraft pilot’s license."

The new rules, the AP writes, "also would effectively lift the lid on flights by other potential operators who have held off using the technology — ranchers who want to count cattle, research scientists, and companies that inspect infrastructure like bridges, oil platforms and smokestacks, to name a few."

However, while "the rules permit commercial transport of goods by drones for the first time," they also preclude "delivery drones flying across cities and suburbs clasping small packages as envisioned by Amazon. Amazon and Google are working on drone delivery systems for goods purchased online. Google officials have said they expect deliveries to begin sometime in 2017. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said the agency is researching how drone deliveries might safely be accomplished, but he declined to set a timetable for such rules."
KC's View:
Drone deliveries are going to open ... not everywhere, but judiciously, in places where it makes sense.

It is extraordinary to me how fast this has moved ... just a few years ago, the whole drone movement was seen as being on the fringes, and the FAA was resistant. Now, it is mainstream.