US task force likely to recommend free, web-based registry for drone owners

Drone vs Cow. Credit: Flickr/Lima Pix

A federal task force is expected to recommend a Web-based registry for drone owners that would impose no registration fees, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The 25-member task force has reached no final decisions after three days of meetings this week, the sources said. Discussions are expected to continue via teleconference over the next two weeks before the committee delivers formal recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration by Nov. 20.

Owners of small unmanned aerial vehicles would likely have to sign up on a website or use a smartphone app and put a visible registration number on the drone.

The process would provide a digital alternative to the more onerous paper-based registration process for manned aircraft. Responsibility for registering is expected to fall to the owner rather than the manufacturer or retail vendor, but the task force could recommend no penalties for first-time noncompliance, the sources said.

The sources said this week’s meetings focused largely on top-line issues, leaving details on specific requirements and privacy questions for later discussions.

U.S. aviation regulators, who expect to begin implementing registration in December, say a registry would help authorities combat a surge in rogue drone flights near airports and other public sites. The flights have raised concerns about safety and security risks including possible collisions with commercial aircraft.

David Vos, the leader for Google’s Project Wing and co-chairman of the task force, told a conference this week that registration should be seen as the first step toward incorporating drones into U.S. airspace. He predicted that other steps, including air traffic control systems for low-altitude drone flights, could follow within the next 12 months.

The FAA is crafting final regulations that would allow companies to use drones as part of their business operations. Those rules are expected early next year.

(Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.