FAA approves fully automated commercial drone flights

WASHINGTON (AP) – A Massachusetts company has been granted approval to operate commercial drone flights without a person directing the machine and keeping it in sight.

It’s the first time that the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has allowed fully automated commercial drone flights.

American Robotics Inc touted the advantage of its machines as being able to operate continuously without “expensive human labour”.

“The Marlborough, Massachusetts, company said on Friday it has tested fully automated drones for four years.

CEO and co-founder Reese Mozer said there could be a USD100 billion market in providing drone services to industries such as energy and agriculture, but that FAA safety requirements have restricted their use.

The company said its scout drones have technology to stay a safe distance from other aircraft. They are housed in base stations that allow for autonomous charging and to process and transmit the data they collect from aerial surveys.