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Can I (Legally) Use a Drone?

That depends. The Federal Aviation Administration offers a compliance path for the use of small unmanned aerial vehicles, but many commercial operators are going it on their own pending formal regulations that are expected by 2017.


There is more than one way for architecture firms to enlist a drone—some with the government’s blessing and many more without. In the category of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which weigh less than 55 pounds, drones offer immense potential for capturing data, images, and videos, and inspecting inaccessible and hazardous areas. But a lack of clear regulations here in the U.S. (other countries, like Canada, offer more clear-cut terms) has led to confusion as to who’s accountable for what and to whom. Such ambiguity threatens the usefulness of the technology in the AEC sector.

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