Regulations to allow for autonomous drone use just became easier. Typically, regulations have required drone operators to be human operated and/or have a line of sight to the drone. There were a handful of exceptions to the Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) requirements specifically in industrial uses, but even those required a human operator to be close to the operations.
Now, the FAA has approved autonomous commercial drone flights in rural areas and below 400 feet. Boston based American Robotics received approval for its autonomous drone system. It looks like the drone devices will operate on preconfigured set routes.
Commercial drone usage continues to grow with significant advancements in the areas of medication delivery and agriculture and industrial inspections.
At present, rural zones especially those related to farming are often seen as easier test areas due to the presence of open spaces and few people. However, we expect to see significant expansion of drone usage in populated areas as regulations easy and autonomous systems improve.
Read more about the FAA's decision here.