Getting a drone for Christmas? Be sure to register it before you fly

DJI Mavic Pro review
Dan Baker/Digital Trends
The popularity of drones shows no sign of cooling. Indeed, 2017 looks set to be the best year yet for sales of the remotely controlled flying machines. In the U.S. alone producers expect to ship 3.4 million units this year, representing a sizable 40-percent increase on 2016, according to the Consumer Technology Association.

If you have a hunch that one of those boxes under the Christmas tree is a drone and you turn out to be right, you’ll be wanting to get out of the house pretty darn quick to get that bird flying high in the sky.

One thing to remember, however, is that you’ll need to register your drone with the authorities before you push the launch lever for the very first time. It doesn’t take long to do, only costs five bucks, and can be done online.

Mandatory registration, which started at the end of 2015, was put on hold earlier this year over a legal issue. But it was reinstated on December 12 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act signed into law by President Trump.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it welcomed the reinstatement of drone registration as it should help encourage safe and responsible drone flights.

Anyone with a drone weighing between 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and 55 pounds (25 kg) needs to register their name, home address, and email address with the FAA. You’ll then receive a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership and a unique ID number on a sticker to affix to your aircraft. This helps the authorities to quickly identify you should your drone end up somewhere it shouldn’t.

The weight guidelines encompass pretty much all the popular drones on the market today, from DJI’s tiny Spark to the larger Phantom 4 Pro.

According to the FAA’s website, those who fail to register their drone “will be subject to civil and criminal penalties.”

Besides registration, newbie drone pilots should also avoid flying their machine higher than 400 feet, and always keep it within the line of sight. Also, keep it away from crowds and busy places and be sure to respect the privacy of others — in other words, don’t go buzzing over people’s yards or dropping low over people you don’t know.

It hardly needs to be said (though we’ll mention it anyway), but you should keep your quadcopter well away from places like airports and stadiums. In fact, the best way to find out about any permanent or temporary flying restrictions is by checking the FAA’s B4UFLY app (for iOS and Android), which also offers plenty of tips for newbie drone owners.

Follow these safety tips and you’re all set to have plenty of fun with your new drone. Enjoy!

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Get sweaty with the best smart home fitness gadgets on the market

Are you looking for smart fitness devices that will really help your workouts, no matter where you like to exercise? These smart home gadgets are designed to help you analyze your workouts and keep track of how you are doing.
Mobile

The iPad Mini, Apple’s tiny tablet, makes a return with powerful specs

Apple has finally revealed the iPad Mini. With all-new and upgraded specs, support for the Apple Pencil, and a fantastically inclusive price, here's everything you need to know about the iPad Mini.
Gaming

A master agent’s guide to skills and perks in The Division 2

As a Division agent, you have access to a variety of specialized skills that can really, really help you in combat. Certain perks are also quite vital to your success. Our skills and perks guide has all the details.
Emerging Tech

Take a dip in the Lagoon Nebula in first image from SPECULOOS instrument

The European Southern Observatory has released the first image collected by their new SPECULOOS instrument, and it's a stunning portrait of the Lagoon Nebula, a swirling cloud of dust and gas where new stars are born.
Emerging Tech

Robot assistants from Toyota and Panasonic gear up for the Tokyo Olympics

Japan plans to use the 2020 Olympics to showcase a range of its advanced technologies. Toyota and Panasonic are already getting in on the act, recently unveiling several robotic designs that they intend to deploy at the event.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-generated text is supercharging fake news. This is how we fight back

A new A.I. tool is reportedly able to spot passages of text written by algorithm. Here's why similar systems might prove essential in a world of fake news created by smart machines.
Emerging Tech

Racing to catch a flight? Robot valet at French airport will park your car

Hate searching for parking at the airport when you need to catch a plane? Startup Stanley Robotics recently unveiled a new outdoor automated robotic valet system. Here's how it works.
Business

Bags with brains: Smart luggage and gadgets are making travel smoother

The bag you use to tote your stuff can affect the experience of any trip. In response, suitcases are wising up, and there are now options for smart luggage with scales, tracking, and more. Here are our favorite pieces.
Computing

At $99, Nvidia’s Jetson Nano minicomputer seeks to bring robotics to the masses

Nvidia announced a new A.I. computer, the Jetson Nano. This computer comes with an 128-core GPU that Nvidia claims can handle pretty much any A.I. framework you could imagine. At $99, it's an affordable way for A.I. newbies to get involved.
Computing

Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 
Business

British Airways’ new Club Suite for business class comes with a door

British Airways is going after a bigger slice of the business class market with the imminent launch of the Club Suite. The plush seating option offers a more private space as well as an easier route to the bathroom.
Smart Home

Sony’s Aibo robot dog can now patrol your home for persons of interest

Sony released the all-new Aibo in the U.S. around nine months ago, and since then the robot dog has (hopefully) been melting owners' hearts with its cute looks and clever tricks. Now it has a new one up its sleeve.
Emerging Tech

Inflating smart pills could be a painless alternative to injections

Could an inflating pill containing hidden microneedles replace painful injections? The creators of the RaniPill robotic capsule think so — and they have the human trials to prove it.