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FAA Says 181,000 Drones Have Been Registered Under New Rules

The Federal Aviation Administration said on Wednesday that 181,000 drones have been registered in the database it launched just over two weeks ago in response to a surge of rogue drone flights near airports and crowded public venues.

The total is a fraction of the 700,000 drones that officials have said they expected to be sold during the recently ended Christmas season.

The FAA said it is working with the private sector on ways to streamline registration including new smart phone apps that could allow a manufacturer or retailer to register a drone automatically by scanning an identification code on the aircraft.

"As of today, about 181,000 aircraft have been registered," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement. "But this is just the beginning. Now that we have set up the registration system, our challenge is to make sure everyone is aware of the requirement and registers."

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The FAA unveiled the registry for recreational drone owners on Dec. 14 and launched the database on Dec. 21. Owners of drones weighing between 0.55 pound (250 grams) and 55 pounds (25 kgs) must register and display an FAA identification number on their aircraft. Federal officials see online registration as one way to address unauthorized flights near airports and crowded public venues that have raised safety concerns across the United States.

Related: Next Battleground for Drones: State and Local Governments

People who owned drones prior to Dec. 21 have until February 19 to register.

Separately, the FAA said it has developed a smartphone app to show drone operators where it's OK to fly and what areas are off limits. The app, B4UFLY, uses maps that identify the operator's current location and restricted areas in a radius around the operator. It's available now for Apple devices from the App Store and for Android devices from the Google Play Store.

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