Google’s Wing launches a free app in the United States to help drone pilots legally fly: Digital Photography Review

Wing, owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, recently launched a free app to help remote pilots legally fly their drones. OpenSky first appeared in 2019 when Wing was running drone delivery trials in Canberra, Australia’s capital city, and suburban areas. As of this past Tuesday, it has become available in the United States for both recreational and commercial remote pilots on iOS and Android.

The free app is built on Google Maps’ platform and is color-coded to give remote pilots of all experience levels clear guidance on where they can and cannot legally operate a drone. Users can place a pin on a location anywhere in the U.S. and it will display a color that coincides with flight information in that particular area.

Pins and areas are color-coded. Clear instructions on how to proceed with a flight are provided as well.

A green area or pin signifies it’s safe to operate, yellow represents the need to proceed with caution (there may be altitude restrictions or scheduled public events), and red areas are off limits. Orange areas represent controlled airspace. OpenSky allows its users to request LAANC (Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability) for near real-time approval in the ‘hundreds of air traffic facilities and airports’ from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

OpenSky also gives users the ability to log and plan their flights in advance. However, since an Internet connection is required to use the app, Wing recommends that users obtain LAANC approval in advance and take a screenshot for proof should you end up in an area with poor reception.

There are nearly two million drones registered in the United States alone amidst increasing restrictions. Any aircraft weighing over 0.55 pounds to 55 pounds must be registered on the FAA’s DroneZone. Thanks to RemoteID rulemaking, drones will need to start broadcasting their location starting in October 2023. OpenSky believes that an easy-to-use app will help increase compliance with FAA regulations.

‘Compliance will ultimately expand the the uses and benefits of drones–among them emergency response, commercial inspections and contactless delivery–to more people,’ says the Wing team in a blog post. Ultimately, Wing hopes to expand their drone delivery services in the United States and the rest of the world.

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