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Google, Amazon, and Walmart invited to help shape drone registry rules

drones faa refund registration fee flying drone
Lu Yao / Shutterstock
Determined to hit its November 20 deadline for recommendations regarding a new registration system for drones, the Federal Aviation Administration on Thursday announced the members of a task force charged with helping to shape the government initiative.

A quick look down the list of 25 members reveals representatives from a range of companies and federal agencies, including Amazon, Walmart, Google, DJI, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Announced just last week, the registry is an attempt by the authorities to “build a culture of accountability and responsibility, especially with new users who have no experience operating in the U.S. aviation system,” according to the Department of Transportation. It should also offer law enforcement a quick way of identifying drone owners in incidents where it’s not immediately clear who’s responsible for the machine.

Amazon has several members on the panel, including a retail expert who, together with representatives from Walmart and Best Buy, will likely discuss whether registration should be made at the point of sale, and if so, how to best implement such a system.

Expert knowledge on drone technology will come from individuals working on high-profile projects such as Amazon’s Prime Air and Google’s Project Wing, as well as DJI, currently the world’s biggest seller of consumer drones.

The panel will also advise the government on whether some machines, such as very small toy-like UAVs, should be exempt from registration if they are considered to pose little risk to safety, and in addition discuss whether a different system of registration should be created for commercial drone operators.

The move to create the new database follows increasing reports of reckless drone use that include flights near airports, national security scares, and disruption to firefighting activities.

Other efforts to clamp down on drone flights in restricted areas include the development of technology capable of intercepting a drone mid-flight, allowing the authorities to bring it safely down to the ground.

The government is determined to have the registry in place by mid-December so that its new database will include the million or so drone purchases expected to be made by hobbyists over the holiday season.

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