US Department of Transportation assembling task force for drone registration

The game of drones takes a new turn, suggesting not all unmanned aircraft will have clear takeoffs to the friendly skies soon.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

The federal government is cracking down on the crowd of drones continuing to take flight, whether they are lifting off for entertainment or business purposes.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is moving forward with plans to require the registration of all Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), a.k.a. drones.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta revealed plans to assemble a task force, which will be curating recommendations for the registration process.

The task force is being populated with representatives from more than half a dozen organizations, including the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the American Association of Airport Executives.

Without citing specific numbers, the federal agency asserted in Monday's announcement that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) receives reports about "potentially unsafe UAS operations" on a daily basis and that pilot sightings of drones have doubled in the last year.

There have been a rising number of drone close-calls and accidents in the last few years, including a drug-smuggling drone crashing near the U.S.-Mexico border and even a drone crashing at the White House.

Earlier this month, the FAA said it was seeking to impose a $1.9 million fine for SkyPan International, a Chicago-based aerial photography company deploying drones for real estate clients.

The FAA contested SkyPan had conducted at least 65 unauthorized operations within congested airspace while violating airspace regulations and other operating rules.

The registration process also has the potential to stall a number of projects brewing in the tech industry. Giants like Amazon, Facebook and Google are planning to use drones for futuristic initiatives ranging from package deliveries to providing wireless Internet access.

Nevertheless, some projects have already been cleared for takeoff.

The FAA gave Amazon Logistics, the e-commerce brand's delivery arm, the green light in March.

While not an all out, open-ended ticket, the FAA granted Amazon with a certificate of "experimental airworthiness," meaning the Seattle-based corporation can start testing drones for research and development.

The Internet giant first unveiled its Prime-branded drone delivery program in late 2013 -- much to the simultaneous amazement and cautious fear of consumers everywhere. Dubbed Prime Air, the initiative is aiming for a retail rollout within a few years.

The task force will need to have recommendations submitted by Friday, November 20.

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