November 24, 2014

Sources say the new rules could hamper helpful drone uses, like helping farmers do aerial crop surveys.     Photo: Lima Pix/Flickr

You'll Need a Pilot's License to Fly Your Drone

Soon-to-come FAA rules would apply to commercial drones big and small

The Federal Aviation Agency may finalize its highly anticipated rules for commercial drones by the end of the year, the Wall Street Journal reports. Among those rules: a requirement that all drone operators obtain pilot certification, a process that demands dozens of hours in a cockpit. Rules would apply to drones weighing less than 55 pounds and limit flights to daytime hours and an altitude of 400 feet.

People “familiar with the matter” told the WSJ that the rules may be more restrictive than what drone enthusiasts have expected over the past six years, though recent news hinted that national regulators would take a tough stance on the pilotless aircraft. Last week, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board upheld the FAA’s authority to police civilian drones. In its ruling, the NTSB clearly set out a very broad definition of “aircraft” that also put drone supporters on edge: “An ‘aircraft’ is any device used for flight in the air.”

This comes as bad news for those who argue that the FAA should create more lenient rules for smaller drones. WSJ sources point out that the rules would not properly address privacy concerns. Such sweeping applications may also hamper drone operations that do more good than harm—like those used by conservationists or search-and-rescue teams.

Read Outside’s March 2014 article about how commercial drones could revolutionize the way we experience the outdoors.


Put your phones down, grow some virtual apples, and reap the rewards.     Photo: imtmphoto/iStock

Idea We Love: The App to Quiet All Apps

Users rewarded for leaving their mobile device alone

A student team won $30,000 to develop an app that will encourage users to stop toying with their phones, according to the Straits Times of Singapore.

When two or more people who have downloaded the app—called Apple Tree—put their phones together, a virtual apple tree begins to grow on the screen. As apples appear, they can be “harvested” and exchanged for discounts and rewards. Trees will continue to grow and bear fruit, however, only if the phones remain untouched, the Straits Times reports.

The app was developed to commemorate Singapore’s 50th birthday and will be released next year, according to the Independent.


Moab will allow e-bikers only on trails where motorcycles and off-road vehicles are allowed.     Photo: Zach Dischner/Flickr

Moab Bans E-Bikes on Mountain Bike Trails

Classifies them as motorized vehicles

Moab has drawn the line when it comes to e-bike access to trails. Last week, the area’s field office of the Bureau of Land Management banned electric-powered bicycles from dedicated mountain bike routes.

“The Moab BLM has determined that motor-assisted bicycles (electric, gas, or diesel) are motorized vehicles,” the BLM wrote on its website. “The use of motor-assisted bicycles is only allowed on motorized trails.”

The move puts e-bikes in the same category as ATVs and dirt bikes. Riders looking to bring an e-bike into the mountain biking hotbed will no longer have access to popular trails like Pipe Dream, Slickrock, and Klondike Bluffs. According to, motorized vehicles can access portions of trails like Porcupine Rim, which have sections designated as “Jeep roads,” but not the singletrack. Moab BLM has posted an updated map of strictly mountain bike trails, but the area does have hundreds of miles of trails and unpaved roads for motorized vehicles.