In a landmark announcement likely to pave the way for increased commercial use of drones, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expected on Thursday to green light the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for a number of movie and TV production companies.
People with knowledge of the plans told Bloomberg that the FAA is expected to give permission for drone flights on closed movie sets in the US, allowing for easier capture of aerial shots where cranes or even helicopters would otherwise be used.
The ruling would enable movie makers to cut costs and bring more creative sequences to their productions as they get to grips with the relatively new technology and discover its full potential.
Seven media companies, including Flying-Cam which captured footage overseas for the most recent James Bond movie (Skyfall), are expected to be cleared for drone use, though around 40 other firms, including Amazon, have also applied for permission to use the technology.
The e-commerce colossus has for the last year or so been developing its Prime Air drone that it hopes will one day be able to deliver Amazon-bought items to customers living close to its fulfillment centers. The company currently tries out its flying tech at designated testing sites within the US, but is now keen to run trial flights outdoors at its R&D base near Seattle.
Applications submitted by the seven media companies asked the FAA for permission to fly UAVs weighing no more than 55 pounds (25 kilograms) to a maximum altitude of 400 feet (123 meters).
According to Bloomberg, the companies made clear in their applications that the drones would be operated by a licensed pilot, with an assistant on hand to keep an eye on the immediate area during flights to ensure the location remains safe.
Up to now, the only place in the US where commercial drone flights are allowed is Alaska, where oil firms have been using them for aerial inspections of equipment.
If the FAA relaxes its rules further in the coming years, it’s forecast the drone industry could see the creation of 100,000 jobs in the first 10 years (data from AUVSI).
Video enthusiasts around the world are already showing off the stunning capabilities of drone technology, with this website one of many pulling together some of the best footage for all to enjoy.