Michael Huerta, acting Federal Aviation Administration administrator, recently addressed attendees of a conference in Las Vegas on unmanned vehicle systems, reports W.J. Hennigan for the Los Angeles Times.
This was the first time in its 39 year history that an FAA administrator addressed the audience.
According to Hennigan, the trade show attracted 8,000 participants and 500 exhibitors showcasing robot technology for air, land and sea.
Huerta said the FAA has a large amount of work in creating regulations for integrating unmanned aircraft into U.S. commercial airspace.
According to Hennigan, he reassured the crowd that the agency will create new rules for robotic aircraft use before the Congressional deadline of September 2015.
Currently, only police agencies possess authority to operate UAVs within U.S. airspace for surveillance.
Drones have also been used to gather weather information, assist fire fighters in finding hot spots of wildfires and to measure radiation during the nuclear reactor crisis in Japan.
According to Hennigan, potential beneficiaries of UAVs in commercial airspace include AeroVironment Inc., General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
Huerta explained that the increased sophistication of drone technology raises various issues related to safety and privacy.
He said that the majority of available models for remotely piloted aircraft lack technology for detecting, sensing and avoiding obstacles that could lead to midair collisions, Hennigan reports.
The FAA is accepting public input on drone regulation and potential issues about how UAVs will be utilized and has established an office to supervise UAV integration and select six drone test sites across the country.
Other speakers advised the FAA to leverage military experience and knowledge on how to guarantee UAV operation and safety.