There is a high probability that remotely operated drones could be used to deliver medical supplies to disaster zones and underdeveloped countries, or to deliver packages to homes. Although drones have a large number of practical applications which need to be researched and tested, the restrictions placed by federal authorities do not allow researchers to test these unmanned aircrafts outdoors.
Even though private drone operators have all the freedom to use these aircrafts for recreational purposes, researchers are not allowed to fly these devices due to federal restrictions. They are required to acquire permission from federal authorities which may take months or they must travel to designated sites for testing. Researchers are of the view that drones may have numerous benefits, which are not being realized due to the restrictions placed by the government.
The Federal Aviation Administration is developing new rules and regulations to help ease the research process, however, changes in the rules are expected to take effect over the next few years which is also slowing down the efficiency of the research process. However, even if the proposed changes are applied, drone operators will not be able to fly these devices beyond sight. According to experts, this will limit the application of these unmanned aircrafts as they cannot be used profitably if they cannot be operated beyond the radius of five miles.
This visual sight rule has had numerous implications on the potential of these devices. For example, marine biologists at the University of Southern Mississippi requested to use drones to investigate the increase in number of whale sharks in the Gulf of Mexico in summertime as drones are significantly more cost effective as compared to ships and aircrafts, however this request was denied due to the visual sight rule. Therefore, there needs to be change in rules regarding drone usage for research purposes.