Regulatory involvement will be key to integrating future vehicles—many of them without drivers or pilots—into the existing transportation network. FAA is taking a big step in the drone world, by making proposed drone certification standards available for the first time.

Camcopter S-100

Photo: Schiebel

The FAA approval process is highly technical. Basically, the agency creates sets of regulations that aircraft manufacturers and operators must follow for the products, and their use, to be considered safe. The rules affect everything from how they are built to who can operate and fix them, and take into account things like aircraft size, mission, etc.

FAA’s proposed drone standards, which it wants public input on, can be found here—but be warned, they are not exactly casual bed-time reading. While they will include some new wrinkles not required for manned aircraft, they are largely a combination of existing rules for helicopters and engines.

Far more interesting is a related FCC application that explains what the company behind all of this, FlightScan Corp., has in mind. The Florida-based company wants to use Camcopter S-100 autonomous helicopters built by Austria’s Schiebel to survey power lines. From the FCC filing:

FlightScan seeks to conduct research into the performance and reliability of [remotely piloted aircraft systems, or RPAS] to provide continuous, routine inspection of critical strategic infrastructure using a highly sophisticated, technically advanced RPAS, equipped with the latest imaging sensor technologies to accomplish the network monitoring.

The work will be done on about 26 miles of utility between Orlando and Titusville. The infrastructure is part of the Orlando Utilities Commission.