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Federal Agencies Launch Efforts to Address National Security, Public Safety Risks of Drones

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Federal agencies are initiating measures to address the potential risk posed by unmanned aircraft systems to national security and public safety amid an increasing number of drones flying near airports and other critical infrastructure, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The Federal Aviation Administration and NASA are working on an air traffic control system to help track small, low-flying consumer drones as part of efforts to promote legitimate flight activities.

In April, FAA loosened restrictions that prohibit flying at night and flight operations over moving vehicles and humans on the condition that pilots passed a test, installed approved lighting on their UAS and satisfying other criteria. The FAA will also require drone pilots to disclose their identity, altitude, location of their control stations and other data through remote identification.

“Remote identification will help law enforcement determine if a drone poses an actual threat that needs to be mitigated,” a spokeswoman for FAA said in a statement.

In April, the Department of Homeland Security performed tests in North Dakota to assess several industry technologies meant to detect UAS flights. DHS plans to use various sensors tailored to different topographical settings.

The Department of Defense is working to intercept and disable drones. In 2020, DOD tapped Maj. Gen. Sean Gainey to lead a new office for countering small UAS to prevent drone strikes and surveillance operations at U.S. military satellites and on the battlefield.

Gainey’s office collaborated with companies like Boeing to test drone interceptors in April at the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. The office is conducting experiments with high-powered microwave and directed-energy systems to counter drones and plans to carry out tests every six months.

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