This week Federal regulators announced that they will begin to require recreational drone operators to register their drones. This move comes in the wake of numerous drone incidents over the past year, the most high profile one being a drone crashing onto the front lawn of the White House. Federal regulators hope that the creation of a registration program for drones will help curb future close calls like this one, but will it?
Currently, the details of the drone registration are foggy at best, but one thing is for sure, federal regulators will have their work cut out for them. For one, how is this registration going to be enforced? People who are going to want to do illegal things with drones are surely going to avoid the registration process, then what? Let’s say crime or incident occurs with an unregistered drone, then there is no way to trace it back to the owner. Then the owner can simply walk away and buy another drone. Getting drones registered is going to be the biggest hurdle for this new system.
It is probably going to end up being harsh penalties for unregistered drones with little other incentive. I could also see Federal regulators requiring operators to take some sort of written test before they register. However, it would be nice if they instituted a tiered system of licenses that was dependent on flying hours where higher tier licenses would grant operators more privileges like high elevation allowances.
Ultimately, the registration of drones was inevitable. There has been far too many close calls and the government wasn’t going to wait for a more serious incident to occur before some action was taken. However, with any new regulations there is definitely going to be some growing pains. My fear is that regulations will be so strict that experienced drone operators will not be able to bring out the full potential of drones. Over the past few years we have seen some really amazing drone videos of cities, events, and landscapes. It would be a real shame if recreational drone operation was stomped out. Regulators needs to outline a path for expanded commercial use and recreational use, not just create roadblocks.