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You May Now Launch Your Beer-Delivering Drones

A judge's ruling has opened the door for businesses to use drones for commercial purposes.
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Thanks to a judge's ruling, you can legally film a commercial or even deliver beer using a drone.

Judge Patrick Geraghty of the National Transportation Safety Board earlier this week dismissed a $10,000 fine for reckless flying the Federal Aviation Administration had imposed on a man who shot a commercial using a drone, according to Bloomberg. Geraghty, the official responsible for deciding appeals against the FAA's enforcement actions, said the agency has no authority over small unmanned aircraft.

Raphael Pirker, who used a drone to shoot a promotional video over the University of Virginia in 2011, was the first person the FAA has fined for commercial use of a drone, Bloomberg reports. In the case, the FAA argued that Pirker's use of the drone, a small five-pound plane with foam wings, was "careless and reckless," and therefore subject to the agency's authority to enforce flying safety. But Geraghty decided that "there was no enforceable FAA rule" on the type of aircraft Pirker used.

Pirker's lawyer, Brendan Schulman, suggested the decision is a big win for businesses--from the likes of Minnesota-based beer company Lakemaid, which delivers beer to ice fishermen, to Amazon, which has generated huge buzz for its same-day drone-delivery plan.

"This has very significant implications for companies that have been eager to proceed with commercial applications for UAS [Unmanned Aircraft Systems] technologies," Schulman told Bloomberg.

The decision counters the FAA's website, which states there are "no shades of gray in FAA regulations. Anyone who wants to fly an aircraft--manned or unmanned--in U.S. airspace needs some level of FAA approval." In 2012, Congress ordered the FAA to write rules to safely integrate drones into U.S. skies by 2015, Bloomberg reports.

But for the time being, it appears it's safe to start building your drone-delivery department. 

Check out Lakemaid's video of its beer-delivering drones below. 

Last updated: Mar 7, 2014

WILL YAKOWICZ | Staff Writer | Reporter, Inc.com

Will Yakowicz is a staff writer for Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and local politics for The Brooklyn Paper and was the editor of Park Slope Patch. He has also reported in the West Bank and Moscow for Tablet Magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.




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