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If I were a drone hobbyist, and I flew a drone over to someone to give them money in exchange for something, would that count as commercial use and therefore be illegal? Here’s an example scenario:

I’m not licensed to fly drones commercially. I fly a drone with money and an order over to the local McDonald’s drive-through with some money. The cashier takes the money and puts a burger into the basket in return. Assuming the McDonald’s is just across the street (still in visual range) and there’s no one in the drive-through that I’d be flying over, would that be legal? I’m not operating the drone for hire, and since I’ve payed for the burger, it’s my property (so I’m not illegally flying someone else’s property).

I certainly don’t intend to do this (and I am a commercial drone pilot), but I was just wondering if that counts as commercial use. I couldn’t find anything specific in the regulations that explained it.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, first, you need to get caught... $\endgroup$ – acpilot Sep 11 at 20:35
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Laws around drone use are very new, and the only way to be certain about this is to have a case come to trial. You probably don't want to be the person it comes to trial over. A lawyer would give you a much better interpretation, but even they can't be sure.

If you are interested in my personal uninformed opinion (IANAL) then I think it would not count as commercial use. My reasons are:

  1. The drone is completely incidental to the transaction. The cashier would do exactly the same if you showed up in person on foot or in a car, or if you sent someone else to make the transaction.
  2. If you drive your car to McDonalds, that does not count as commercial use of your car. If you fly to McDonalds then that does not count as commercial use of an aeroplane.
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  • $\begingroup$ 100% correct in your reasoning. $\endgroup$ – Michael Hall Sep 11 at 18:47

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