After a number of delays, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today officially announced its proposed rules for small commercial drones. Most of the proposed rules already leaked earlier this weekend. Overall, the proposed rules are pretty straightforward and more lenient than expected, but while they open up a number of use cases, they are still strict enough to make it impractical to operate the kind of delivery drones Amazon and others have envisioned. Here are the basics of the rules, which will apply to drones weighing fewer than 55 pounds: pilots will have to pass a knowledge test (but not a practical test) to get a newly developed drone operator license and will have to be vetted by the TSA. They will have to take a recurrent test every 24 months and be at least 17 years old. Pilots will only be allowed to fly during daytime hours and must be able to see the drone at all times (though they can also use a second operator as an observer). Once an operator has this license, it will apply to all small drones. Thankfully, it turns out that the FAA will not require drone pilots to get a private or commercial pilots license, and operators will not have to pass a medical exam. As expected, commercial drones will only be allowed to fly under 500 feet and no faster than 100 mph. Drones will have to be registered with the FAA. Flights over people are prohibited and visibility has to be over 3 miles. The FAA is also considering to create a separate category for very small drones under 4.4 pounds that may allow operators to fly over people. You can find a more detailed summary of the proposed rules here and our analysis of the leaked document — which turned out to be correct — is here . It’s worth noting that these rules do not apply to hobbyists and model airplanes
Popular travel app Kayak has put augmented reality to clever use with a new feature that lets you measure the size of your carry-on bag using just your smartphone. Its updated iOS app now takes advantage of Apple’s ARKit technology to introduce a new Bag Measurement tool that will help you calculate your bag’s size so you can find out if it fits in the overhead bin – you know, before your trip. The tool is handy because the dimensions of permitted carry-on luggage can differ from airline to airline, Kayak explains , so it’s not as simple these days to figure out if your bag will fit. In the new Kayak iOS app, you can access the measurement tool through the Flight Search feature. The app will first prompt you to scan the floor in order to calibrate the measurements. You then move your phone around the bag to capture its size. Kayak’s app will do the math and return the bag’s size, in terms of length, width, and height. And it will tell you if the bag “looks good” or not to meet the carry-on size requirements. Plus, the company says it compares all the airlines’ baggage size requirements in one place, so you’ll know for sure if it will be allowed by the airline you’re flying. Augmented reality applications, so far, have been a mixed bag. (Sorry). Some applications can be fairly useful – like visualizing furniture placed in a room or trying on new makeup colors. (Yes, really. I’m serious). But others are more questionable – like some AR gaming apps, perhaps.