More than a million drones, most of them owned by hobbyists, are now registered with the Federal Aviation Administration.
The figure, announced by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao at CES, includes 878,000 hobbyists who receive an identification number covering all the drones they own.
Another 122,000 commercial, public, and other drones are individually registered, the federal agency said in a news release.
“The tremendous growth in drone registration reflects the fact that they are more than tools for commerce and trade, but can save lives, detect hazardous situations and assist with disaster recovery,” Chao said in a statement. “The challenge is to remove unnecessary hurdles to enable the safe testing and integration of this technology into our country’s airspace.”
Beyond being legally required, the registration process helps educate drone operators who are new to aviation by having them agree to the FAA’s operating rules and increases airspace security by identifying drones with their owner, the DOT said. The FAA also uses its registration database to get safety messages out to drone users.
For hobbyists, registering a drone with the FAA costs $5 and lasts for three years.
In December, the FAA restricted drone flights above seven Department of Energy sites, citing security and law enforcement concerns.