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Flying a drone for fun? Get ready to register it

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You may not be one of the growing number of drone enthusiasts around the country. But if you are, the federal Department of Transportation has news for you. It will require that consumer drone operators register drones.

Flying robots that are used for commercial purposes already go through a registration process, but federal regulators have been very slow to catch up to enthusiasm from consumers and businesses alike. Marketplace Tech host Ben Johnson has the skinny on how the new rules will be developed and implemented. 

On how the rules will be developed:

The Department of Transportation is putting together, yes, a task force, which we love in government. It’s going to be 25 to 30 people. They’re going to be representatives of government, regulators and also the industry. They’re going to put together a bunch of rules around registering your drones if you’re a consumer…. They’re supposedly going to finalize them by mid-December, right around the time everybody’s going to unwrap their sparkling new quadcopters that they got for Christmas. 

On how drone registration is different from gun registration:

Sightings of drones by pilots in areas where drones really shouldn’t be flying is up 200 percent over last year. This is a growing problem, but it’s still a relatively small number of people. And it depends a little bit on how the FAA and the Department of Transportation rolls out these rules. 

To get a better sense of how commercial enterprises are reacting to the rules, Johnson spoke with Jonathan Downey, whose company, Airware, develops software that runs many different types of commercial drones. 

Downey on the registration process: 

I think everyone’s hoping that it’s going to be a really seamless process. You buy your consumer drone, you go to a web URL, you type in your name and you’re done, and you’re ready to fly. If you have to go, and you write it out with a pen, and you mail it into some government address, and you don’t hear back from them for 3 months or 6 months — you got your drone for Christmas and you’re not flying it until March — I think that’s the nightmare scenario. 

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