Stories about military UAVs have dominated the news since the most
recent wave of
terrorism swept the world but UAVs continue to take on many civilian
jobs as well. A new article in
Nature describes the growing number of jobs for these robot planes and
the challenges they face in being accepted by civilian aviation
authorities. In the US, the FAA isn't even sure if a UAV meets the legal
definition of a plane so it's hard to know what criteria must be met
to fly one.
I'm actively working on an
project that could very well be subject to these sorts of regulations.
Most people seem to agree that 400 foot AGL is the limit for
unregistered vehicles, but I can not find anything definite. Does
anyone know of FARs that
cover such restrictions?
I had a similar question come up recently. I was discussing robots with
a friend in Colorado and we came up with the idea of trying to build a
robot that could autonomously make the journey from my location in
Dallas to his location in Colorado Springs. At one point we talked about
various types of flying robots and ran into the question of whether or
not such a robot could legally make the trip. My reasoning was that R/C
planes and even weird, manned things like balloons or experimental
aircraft could probably do it, so why not a robot. But I haven't got a
clue what rules would apply and where to find them.