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U.S. Department of Transportation Selects 10 Drone Programs for Testing

Accompanied by technology innovators and government leaders from across the nation, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao today announced the 10 state, local and tribal governments who will conduct flight tests as part of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program.

“We know our diverse new partners will help us address a broad range of complex drone integration challenges, “ said FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell. “The fields that could see immediate opportunities from the program include commerce, photography, emergency management, public safety, precision agriculture and infrastructure inspections.”

The 10 programs are:

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Durant, Oklahoma

City of San Diego, California

Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority, Herndon, Virginia

Kansas Department of Transportation

Lee County Mosquito Control District

Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority

North Carolina Department of Transportation

North Dakota Department of Transportation

City of Reno, Nevada

University of Alaska-Fairbanks

Over the next two and a half years, the selectees will collect drone data involving night operations, flights over people and beyond the pilot’s line of sight, package delivery, detect-and-avoid technologies and the reliability and security of data links between pilot and aircraft. The data collected from these operations will help the US DOT and FAA craft new enabling rules that allow more complex low-altitude operations, identify ways to balance local and national interests related to UAS integration, improve communications with local, state and tribal jurisdictions, address security and privacy risks, and accelerate the approval of operations that currently require special authorizations.

First announced last October, this White House initiative partners the FAA with local, state and tribal governments, which then partner with private industry to safely explore the further integration of drone operations. The program will help tackle the most significant challenges to integrating drones into the national airspace and will reduce risks to public safety and security. According to the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems, the potential economic benefit of drones in the nation’s air space, in less than a decade, is estimated at $82 billion and could create 100,000 jobs.

Categories: News
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