We've seen plenty of reports in the news lately of drones behaving badly. In an effort to address mounting safety concerns, the U.S. government this week announced it will start a drone registration program.
Beginning December 21, most model aircraft and aerial drones - the emerging blanket term for UAVs and quadcopters - must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration.
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The new policy applies to drones that weigh between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds. Drones under 0.55 are considered too small to be a safety hazard, and drones over 55 pounds have to go through a separate aircraft registration process.
Registration will be facilitated through the FAA website, which will collect the owner's name, physical address and email address. The $5 registration certificate can be paid for with credit card or debit card, and must be renewed every three years. To encourage new registrations, the FAA is refunding the $5 fee for the first 30 days.
Owners who sell a used drone can de-register, and the new owner will be required to register the drone again. Individuals must be at least 13 years of age to register, but parents can register vehicles for younger children.
Drone operators who do not register their aircraft will be subject to civil and criminal penalties, including fines and possible jail time in extreme circumstances.
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FAA officials say that they may still make changes to the policy before or after the December 21 date. "We reserve the right to ratchet up or down depending on circumstances," said Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a news briefing earlier this week.
If you're wondering whether the small UAV you own - or plan to buy - will be subject to the new registration policy, the FAA has issued a chart with several example models and weights. You can get it in PDF format here.