During January 2012, the U.S. government is expected to issue air space regulations that allow increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) by civilians and civilian agencies within U.S. air space.
The Federal Aviation Administration has issued documents outlining the concerns about problems with the use of UAVs in the National Airspace System (NAS) with the major concern being safety.
“The NAS encompasses an average of more than 100,000 aviation operations per day, including commercial air traffic, cargo operations, and business jets. Additionally, there are more than 238,000 general aviation aircraft in the system at any time. It is critical that aircraft do not endanger other users of the NAS or compromise the safety of persons or property on the ground,” says a FAA fact sheet on UAVs.
However, UAVs “promise new ways to increase efficiency, save money, enhance safety and even save lives,” the fact sheet says. Because of those, “interest is growing in a broad range of uses such as aerial photography, surveying land and crops, monitoring forest fires and environmental conditions, and protecting borders and ports against intruders.”
In addition, the FAA says in the United States alone, there are “approximately 50 companies, universities and government organizations are developing and producing some 155 unmanned aircraft designs.” In anticipation of FAA rules increasing domestic use of UAVs, some of those companies are working on UAVs that would be used with U.S. air space.