Hobbyist drone owners can now get their registration fees back

drones faa refund registration fee flying drone
Lu Yao / Shutterstock
Much was made of the launch of the drone registry in 2015, which forced hobbyist pilots to fork out five bucks to have their details sit on a database in case you decided to do something silly with your flying machine and the authorities needed to track you down.

Up to a million drone owners have so far done as they were told, hitting the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) website to register their information. But then in May a U.S. appeals court affirmed an earlier lower court ruling that said the policy was in violation of a preexisting law banning regulation of model aircraft. So for the last few months, buyers of new drones have been able to fly them without first registering their details.

But the story doesn’t end there. Although the FAA is still encouraging hobbyist drone owners to register their details voluntarily, May’s ruling has led the agency to start offering a refund to registered users and for their details to be wiped from the database.

To obtain your $5 refund and have your registration details deleted, you’ll need to fill out this FAA form, which requires you to confirm that you only fly your drone for hobby or recreational use. Commercial drones still need to be registered.

Submitting the form will guarantee the deletion of your records, though you’ll need to check a box and give your bank details if you want your $5 back.

The odd thing is, another ruling could be on the way that stipulates owners of consumer drones must register their flying machine, which would mean that anyone who unregisters their drone now will have to register it again, possibly for a future system that allows a drone in the sky to be identified by officials on the ground. So is it really worth the hassle of taking yourself off the database now?

When it launched toward the end of 2015 in response to the growing popularity of remotely controlled quadcopters and the like, the FAA said its registration system would “foster a greater awareness on the part of users to learn the rules about flying safely” in U.S. airspace, and would also enable the authorities to trace ownership of a drone in the event of an incident.

The FAA also launched a B4UFLY iOS and Android app to teach owners about drone safety. The app lets you know if there are any flight restrictions at your current location. Responses could include, “Proceed with Caution,” “Warning — Action Required,” or “Flight Prohibited.”

Emerging Tech

Thrill-seekers will be able to pilot themselves in a giant drone as soon as 2019

Want to hitch a ride on a giant drone? The startup Lift Aircraft is gearing up to let paying customers fly its 18-rotor giant drones over assorted scenic landscapes across the U.S.

Walk, run, and stretch with these handy iPhone fitness apps

Working out and getting yourself in shape isn't easy, but it's easier with the right set of apps. These best iPhone fitness apps will help you to track your calories, monitor your sleep, and achieve your fitness goals.

Want to share your Xbox One games? Here's how to do it

Sharing games on modern consoles is possible, but it takes a few steps. Here's how to start sharing games on your Xbox One console, so friends and family can easily access your library.

Here’s how to install Windows on a Chromebook

If you want to push the functionality of your new Chromebook to another level, and Linux isn't really your deal, you can try installing Windows on a Chromebook. Here's how to do so, just in case you're looking to nab some Windows-only…

If you've lost a software key, these handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.
Emerging Tech

CRISPR gene therapy regulates hunger, staves off severe obesity in mice

Researchers from UC San Francisco have demonstrated how CRISPR gene editing can be used to prevent severe obesity in mice, without making a single edit to the mouse's genome. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Rise of the Machines: Here’s how much robots and A.I. progressed in 2018

2018 has generated no shortage of news, and the worlds of A.I. and robotics are no exception. Here are our picks for the most exciting, game changing examples of both we saw this year.
Emerging Tech

Capture app saves money by 3D scanning objects using iPhone’s TrueDepth camera

Capture is a new iPhone app created by the Y Combinator-backed startup Standard Cyborg. It allows anyone to perform 3D scans of objects and share them with buddies. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

Parker Solar Probe captures first image from within the atmosphere of the sun

NASA has shared the first image from inside the atmosphere of the sun taken by the Parker Solar Probe. The probe made the closest ever approach to a star, gathering data which scientists have been interpreting and released this week.
Emerging Tech

Say cheese: InSight lander posts a selfie from the surface of Mars

NASA's InSight mission to Mars has commemorated its arrival by posting a selfie. The selfie is a composite of 11 different images which were taken by one of its instruments, the Instrument Deployment Camera.
Emerging Tech

Researchers create a flying wireless platform using bumblebees

Researchers at the University of Washington have come up with a novel way to create a wireless platform: using bumblebees. As mechanical drones' batteries run out too fast, the team made use of a biology-based solution using living insects.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

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!
Emerging Tech

Bright ‘hyperactive’ comet should be visible in the sky this weekend

An unusual green comet, 46P/Wirtanen, will be visible in the night sky this month as it makes its closest approach to Earth in 20 years. It may even be possible to see the comet without a telescope.