Experts say one of the most important technologies of the future is drones. Drones are flying devices with no pilot. The number of jobs for people who know how to design, build and control them is increasing.
Because of this, several U.S. universities and colleges are offering degrees in unmanned aerial systems or UAS. One is the University of Washington in Seattle. Christopher Lum is a research scientist with the Flight Systems Laboratory there.
Lum hepls students explore how drones can safely share the skies with other aircraft. However, the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, is creating new rules to control the use of drones.
The FAA is the part of the U.S. government that controls air travel and air traffic. A new federal rule requires that all drones be registered by the middle of February. People who do not register their drones could face fines of up to $20,000.
Changing rules could also present problems for students looking for experience as drone pilots. One problem for many schools is finding a legal place to fly the drones. Students at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, fly inside the college building used for sports.
Lum says they also test drones inside a building at the University of Washington. He says it takes a very long time to get official permission to fly outside. He says it can take months. Lum and some of his students recently moved their research to Australia. Australia has fewer rules governing unmanned aerial systems.