As it stands, the flights of unmanned aircrafts are approved on a case-by-case basis, but the FAA has introduced a plan to integrate drones into U.S. skies.
The FAA released a document outlining all the forseeable challenges that will come along with this integration, plus some potential solutions. (Via KNXV)
With more than 19,000 planes flying in the U.S. every day, incorporating unmanned aircrafts into that equation will be quite the challenge, but the FAA's Anthony Foxx believes the plan will work. (Via Vimeo / Aaron Koblin)
"This roadmap is an important step forward that will help stakeholders understand the operational goals and safety issues we need to consider when planning for the future of our airspace." (Via The Hill)
But the FAA is on a tight schedule for two reasons.
One, the federal government has drawn a line in the sand on this issue by giving the FAA a deadline. Congress wants the Federal Aviation Administration to have rules in place to integrate commercial drone use into American skies by September of 2015. (Via PC Magazine)
Two, commerical drone use is growing more and more popular every day. As The New York Times points out: "American companies have long clamored to use drones. ... Farmers will be able to buy or rent drones to monitor crop conditions. Real estate agents will be able to offer aerial tours. ... And engineers may use them to inspect bridges and highways."
But as difficult as the logistics of this task may be, privacy advocates will likely serve as the largest obstacle to getting this done.
"How do you monitor drone use?"
"What's to prevent all of these commercial operators from sharing the vast treaure drove of data they collect with the government?" (Via CNN)
Congress has ordered the FAA to select six sites to test the integration of drones in U.S. commercial skies. Those cities are expected to be announced in 2014.