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June 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

In a sign that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may be about to relax its ban on the commercial use of drones, AeroVironment announced today (Tuesday) that it has received a go-ahead from the agency to use its Puma AE drone at an oil field in Prudhoe Bay, AK operated by BP. The Los Angeles Times reported that since Sunday, under a five-year contract with BP, the drone has been flying above North America’s largest oil field using high-tech cameras to create 3D models of roads, pads and pipelines. Movie and television producers have been waiting for approval to use drones for location shooting. (Amazon wants to use them for same-day deliveries.) The FAA has previously maintained, however, that drones pose a threat to commercial aircraft and has cited one incident of a near collision in Tennessee. It is insisting that manufacturers install more adequate “detect, sense and avoid” technology to prevent such incidents. Nevertheless, last week the FAA said that it is reviewing requests from seven aerial photo production companies to use what were referred to as “unmanned aircraft systems.”