The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected Iris Automation to participate in the FAA’s Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC). Iris Automation is a safety avionics technology company with Detect-and-Avoid systems and other services that assist its customers in developing scalable BVLOS operations for commercial drones. The BVLOS ARC’s mission is to provide recommendations to the FAA for regulatory requirements based on unmanned aerial system (UAS or drone) performance. The requirements will assist in normalizing safe, scalable, economically-viable, and environmentally-safe UAS BVOLS operations WITHOUT positive air traffic control.

The FAA administrator, Steve Dickson, said, “This [BVLOS ARC] will consider the safety, security and environmental needs, as well as societal benefits, of these operations. Within six months, the committee will submit a recommendations report to the FAA. I think we can all agree this is a big step forward, and it will help pave the way for routine package delivery, infrastructure inspection, and other more complex drone operations beyond the visual line-of-sight of the remote pilot.”

The FAA has sought the input and expertise of the UAS industry and interested stakeholders in the past. Now, the FAA will utilize Iris Automation’s expertise to help establish safety and performance standards for BVLOS operations. This is yet another step to integrating drones into the national airspace in a safe, effective, and efficient manner.

Let’s take a look at the lessons learned in 2020 and where the drone industry might be heading in 2021. Here are some key takeaways from the past year:

  • Continued Industry Maturity: In 2020, drones are now seen as more of a tool than a novel piece of technology. That means that we will likely see a shift from tests and pilot programs to real logistical operations.
  • Industry Regulations and Policy Changes: The new year will likely bring less restrictions and regulations for beyond-visual-line-of-sight flights. We have already seen more of this in 2020 (with the pandemic being a driving factor for loosened restrictions and BVLOS operations), and now that this trend has taken off, it will likely continue. Note that in 2021, the new EU drone regulations will come into effect, too.
  • COVID-19’s Impact on the Industry: The pandemic has brought lessons and new values to light for the critical infrastructure of companies operating drones. Because of this increase in drone use over the past year, it is likely that many more companies will adopt drones into their daily functions over the coming years as well. The efficiency, safety and effectiveness of drones has come to light during this unimaginable year.
  • More delivery drones will likely hit the skies.
  • More real-time image and video capturing by drones leveraging artificial intelligence (AI).

As the demand for drones continues in 2021, expect to see a surge of innovation to meet the various enterprise needs and address regulations. On to the new year.