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FAA says drone signup list has hit 181,000

Image: Parrot Disco
The Parrot Disco is one of the new drones introduced at CES 2016. (Parrot photo)

The Federal Aviation Administration’s chief says he’s happy to see about 181,000 Internet users register recreational drones in less than three weeks’ time – and to help new drone owners, the agency has unveiled a smartphone app that shows no-fly zones.

Even if there’s a chance you might own a drone someday, you could save $5 by taking the FAA up on its introductory offer of free registration through Jan. 20. (That’s what I did.) The FAA requires all recreational drones heavier than a half-pound to be registered by Feb. 19, but the registration website actually registers people and their contact information rather than the hardware. No drones required.

FAA officials hurried up to establish a registration system because they were concerned about a series of high-profile drone crashes last year – including an intrusion on White House grounds. They tallied hundreds of occasions when drones interfered with air traffic. The Computer Technology Association estimates that about 400,000 drones were sold during the holiday season, and the FAA wants to get a better handle on all those flying robots.

During today’s drone panel at the International CES show in Las Vegas, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said he was “very encouraged by the numbers” that have been racked up since the registration website went live on Dec. 21.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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