Today, the FAA published a “roadmap” for its plans to integrate unmanned aircraft into the nation’s airspace by 2015.

The 66-page document outlined some basic principles around how military and commercial drones would be allowed to fly over the US. It also spoke to many of the challenges that the FAA still needs to resolve before it can allow wide-scale operation of drones—like making sure drones don’t run into other aircraft.

Additionally, the roadmap included timetables to test a variety of systems required to overcome those challenges. When Congress funded the FAA in 2012, provisions were put into the budget bill mandating that the FAA create rules to allow commercial use of drones by 2015 and to clear smaller drones for takeoff by 2014. But the FAA has been struggling to find a way to do that safely, and privacy advocates have expressed concerns about the threats to civil liberties posed by law enforcement and commercial drone operations. Speaking before the Aerospace Industries Association today, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said “Unmanned aircraft are inherently different from manned aircraft. In moving forward, we recognize that the expanded use of unmanned aircraft presents great opportunities, but it’s also true that integrating these aircraft presents significant challenges.” 1     

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