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FAA recommends registering drone pilots instead of individual drones

A U.S. Federal Aviation Administration task force has issued a set of recommendations for registering unmanned drones, looking to manage the increasingly popular technology.

For drones between 250 grams and 55 pounds, owners would only need to register the names and addresses of the pilots, instead of each individual drone, according to the task force's official report. Submitting things like email addresses, phone numbers and serial numbers would be purely optional. People choosing not to submit serial numbers, though, would have to mark their registration numbers somewhere on their devices that can be accessed without tools.

Owners would also have to be at least 13 years old, but a parent or guardian could register on behalf of younger individuals.

Another critical suggestion was that registration be free and handled via the Web, with owners getting a digital certificate unless they specifically ask for a paper copy. There would be no flight tests or training, though people might have to sign off on some safety and flying education.

The report was more ambiguous about penalties for unregistered drones, though the task force suggested they be "clear and proportionate" — avoiding the potentially severe punishments associated with full-sized aircraft.

Drones are now flown not only by the military but a growing number of other groups, ranging from hobbyists and filmmakers to rescue teams. Businesses like Amazon are exploring the idea of using drones for small deliveries, which could potentially see swarms of the devices flying over major cities.

A concern has been that without regulation, there could be serious problems with things like crashes, security and privacy concerns, and noise pollution.