The sky really is becoming the limit for drones these days. Turning just about everyone into a pilot of some sort, these quadcopters have gained considerable popularity in the last several months, and are now gaining altitude as well. Thanks to newly relaxed rules announced by the Federal Aviation Association (FAA), both commercial and government drones will be allowed to fly up to 400 feet in the air, double the previous limit of 200 feet.


First and foremost, you now must register your drone, not unlike the way you register a car, boat or airplane. This applies to anyone operating a drone that weighs from .55 pounds and up to 55 pounds — which includes virtually all of the popular quadcopters currently on the market, from the Parrot Bebop to the DJI Phantom 4. So-called microdrones, like the Aerius, are so lightweight that that you don't have to register them, and any monstrosities over 55 pounds are treated like aircraft.

Of course, registration doesn't bestow the right to fly anywhere or any way you like. The FAA has published extensive guidelines, but they can generally be summarized as: Don't fly your drone above 400 feet, within 5 miles of an airport or directly over populated areas — so you can't fly a drone at a sporting event, for example. (Some newer drones, such as from DJI and 3DR, clearly mark federal no-fly zones in the vehicle's mapping software.) You also need to maintain line of sight with the drone, so you shouldn't fly it farther than you can see it, even if the drone has GPS-based autopilot features.

So fly high, drone lovers. Slowly but surely, the rules seem to be changing in your favor.