The drone delivery arm, “Wing” of Google’s parent company Alphabet has launched a free app in the US to help pilots fly their drones legally. Since 2019, OpenSky has been available in Australia but is now available for both recreational and commercial pilots in the US. They can use for conducting commercial surveys, photography, and filming. It’s available now on both Android and iOS.
OpenSky is based on Google Maps; Wings tell DroneLife. It is colour-coded to show areas where pilots can and can’t fly. Areas marked green are ok, but in yellow areas, pilots need to exercise caution, and in red areas shouldn’t fly at all. The most helpful feature in that is it lets pilots submit a flying request in controlled airspace and receive “near real-time authorizations.” In airspace that supports Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability, the approval process works in the airspace. According to FQA on Wings’ website, which includes “hundreds of air traffic facilities and airports.”
It checks where it is legal to fly and request authorization. OpenSky also lets pilots log and plan their flights. The app needs no internet to operate. According to Wing, it is advisable to take a screenshot of a flight approval if needed in an area with poor reception.
The launch of OpenSky comes as drones face so many regulations in the US and across the world, as lawmakers catch up with the relatively new technology. In the US, pilots have to register to fly any drones weighing over 0.55 pounds, and from 2023, drones will have to broadcast their location during flight.
Wing says that an app like OpenSky makes it easier for pilots to obey the rules and fly the nearly 2 million drones that have been registered in the US. Wing said in a blog post, “Compliance will ultimately expand the uses and benefits of drones—among them an emergency response, commercial inspections and contactless delivery—to more people.” It has contactless delivery.