Turn off your Wi-Fi: This flying drone can hack your smartphone from the air
Turn off your wi-fi: This flying drone can hack your smartphone from the airReuters

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expected to announce drones can be used by filmmakers, despite holding a mostly negative stance towards the commercial use of flying helicopter drones.

According to AP, permits are expected to be granted today to seven film and television production companies to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for filming.

The permits come with certain limitations, though – the drones can only be used to film on closed movie sets and must be operated by a team of three persons at all times, including a trained drone operator.

A six-year-long ban forbidding the commercial use of small drones in the US was overturned in March and now the Federal Aviation Administration is reluctantly trialling commercial unmanned helicopter drone flights with BP to search for oil in Alaska and the Arctic Ocean.

FAA still concerned about airspace safety

The FAA insists flying drones pose a serious danger to commercial airspace as well as people on the ground.

While it appeals the federal court decision, the government agency has been trying to put into legislation strict policies that aim to forbid most types of business purposes using drones, including paid photography and commercial farming observation.

"We didn't understand the magnitude to which [drones] would be an oncoming tidal wave, something that must be dealt with, and quickly," Ed Bolton, the Federal Aviation Administration's assistant administrator for NextGen - a program capable of controlling all types of aircraft including drones - told AP.

Some areas in the US that are not airports are still designated as Class B airspace (from ground level to 10,000ft) if they are in commercial aircraft flight paths, such as Dallas, Texas, so the FAA is likely to be able to continue enforcing a strict no-drones policy in these areas.

Businesses lobbying hard for commercial drone use

However, while the ban is still overturned, businesses are starting to lobby the FAA and increase public awareness of what they want to use the technology for, from photographers, farmers and media production companies to real-estate agents.

Amazon was the first with its Amazon PrimeAir drone package delivery service in January, followed by QuiQui, a startup in San Francisco that wants to deliver medical prescriptions via flying drones.

Recently, Google has joined the fray by announcing its Project Wing delivery service, which wants to use all sorts of drones to deliver goods around the world, and Disney has filed patents seeking to use drones to support giant puppets in the air and to create huge remote-controlled light shows at its Disneyland parks.

Even theatrical entertainment company Cirque du Soleil in Canada has joined the fray, filming a 10-minute-long video featuring flying quadcopter drones disguised as magical lampshades dancing and interacting with a performer on a sound stage.