Eric Gakstatter has recently published some thoughts on the use of drones for mapping purposes in the United States. Switzerland has already experienced some drone mapping projects, e.g. a 3D map of the Matterhorn at a resolution of 20 cm. While it is legal in Switzerland to operate drones of a weight of less than 30 kg without a license as long as the operator holds line of sight, U.S. laws are stricter. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sets forth restrictive requirements for public users who must apply for a Certificate of Waiver or Certificate of Authorization (COA) and observe certain rules. Private users face an exception: For non-commercial “hobby” operations under 400 feet AGL (above ground level), no license is required. However, commercial users are still bound to possess a license even below the 400 feet level.
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