The days of largely unregulated hobbyist drone flights in the United States seem to be quickly coming to an end. NBC News reported Friday evening that the US Government will soon require all drone buyers to register their new toy—just as you would register your car with your state’s DMV (though hopefully, without the lines).
According to NBC, the Government will “[require] anyone buying a drone to register the device with the U.S. Department of Transportation.” According to the report, the Government will work with drone makers to set up a registration system that could be in place by Christmas.
The report is unclear whether existing owners would need to register along with those purchasing new drones, but we may not have to wait long to find out—NBC News says the Government plans to announce its proposal on Monday.
The new regulations, NBC says, are in response to several incidents in which drones interfered with the flight of other aircraft.
Over the summer, as PBS reported at the time, hobbyists flying a drones hampered efforts by firefighters to quell multiple wildfires in Southern California. The NBC report also highlights multiple instances where drones got too close to commercial aircraft. The proposed regulations seem to be a step toward addressing these sorts of run-ins.
The story behind the story: Regulating consumer-level drones has been a topic of debate for at least a couple of years. Back in 2013, Amazon proposed a delivery-by-drone service, but said it couldn’t actually launch the service until the FAA had regulations in place for commercial drone flight. (Earlier this year, the FAA proposed rules that would allow for some commercial drone uses, but not drone deliveries.)
Meanwhile, just last week, Senator Barbara Boxer introduced a bill that would make it a federal misdemeanor to “knowingly operate a drone within 2 miles of a fire, an airport or any other restricted airspace,” as our John Ribeiro explained. Violators would be subject to a fine or up to one year in jail.