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Get ready to register your drones in the US – or else

Feds want to track and identify delinquent robo-copters

The US Department of Transportation (DoT) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are drawing up rules requiring people to register their drones.

The DoT and FAA said in a joint statement Monday that they will be forming a task force to write registration guidelines, with a deadline of November 20.

The 25-30 person panel will include government officials and people from both manned and unmanned flying associations. The group will deliver recommended guidelines on how the FAA and DOT should require registration for unmanned drones.

The aim of the registration requirement, the DoT says, is to make it easier for authorities to track down people who fly their drones above the FAA designated-altitudes, or get too close to airports and other restricted zones.

"Registration will help make sure that operators know the rules and remain accountable to the public for flying their unmanned aircraft responsibly," said FAA administrator Michael Huerta.

"When they don't fly safely, they'll know there will be consequences."

Such incidents, the FAA said, have been on the rise in the last two years, as personal drones have become more powerful and affordable.

Among the more high-profile incidents: an encounter earlier this year when a drone buzzed a passenger jet in Dallas and a 2014 close call at Heathrow Airport. Drone craft have also been spotted flying over restricted parts of New York City and have gotten themselves stuck atop billion-dollar sport stadiums.

While the DoT did not say exactly which representatives will be chosen from the drone and pilot industries, the department did say that it had the backing of groups including the Air Line Pilots Association, the Academy of Model Aircraft, and the Consumer Electronics association.

The DoT noted that the requirement for registration will not be all-inclusive. Toys and smaller drones that don't fly at a high enough altitude to interfere with other aircraft would be exempted from the registration rules. ®

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