There will be 600,000 commercial drones operating in the U.S. within the year as the result of new safety rules that opened the skies to them last week, according to a Federal Aviation Administration estimate.
The rules governing the operation of small commercial drones were designed to protect safety without stifling innovation, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told a news conference.
Commercial operators initially complained that the new rules would be too rigid. The agency responded by creating a system to grant exemptions to some of the rules for companies that show they can operate safely, Huerta said.
The FAA granted 76 exemptions on day one, most of them to companies that want to fly at night. “We have created an environment in which emerging technology can be rapidly introduced while protecting the safety of the world’s busiest, most complex airspace,” he said.