USA sends rules on drone regulation to White House for review

10 May, 2018, 14:13 | Author: Gladys Mathis
  • 10 teams win federal approval to push the limits with drones, but Amazon's left out

Kansas has been selected as one of ten participants in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program, an initiative aimed at shaping the future of drones in America, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced Wednesday.

Nevada-based Flirtey, a drone delivery startup, said it was a partner on four of the winning applications including Virginia Tech's. Some of the other big-name companies that compete for a spot in the program are well-known ones such as Intel, Amazon, Airbus, and Qualcomm.

"Data gathered from these pilot projects will form the basis of a new regulatory framework to safely integrate drones into our national airspace." said Secretary Chao.

Among the winning bids was Iris Automation in partnership with three lead applicants: the State of Alaska, the Kansas Department of Transportation and the City of Reno, Nevada. Apple itself adds on to this, saying that it will use drone tests in North Carolina to improve Apple Maps with aerial images. The MOAs will establish the parties' responsibilities, describe specific concepts of operations they will undertake, establish any data-sharing requirements, and specify that no federal funds will be spent on the program.

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Amazon said the fate of its applications was unfortunate, but it was focused on developing safe operations for drones.

Memphis Airport Authority Chief Executive Scott Brockman told Reuters that it had also been picked and that its partner FedEx Corp will use drones to inspect aircraft at its hub in Tennessee as well as parts deliveries for aircraft and some package deliveries between the airport and other Memphis locations. It began limited drone deliveries in the United Kingdom in 2016.

The FAA is seeking to allow drones to fly over people and to remotely identify and track unmanned aerial vehicles while they are in flight, with two new regulations awaiting formal proposal and approval by the Trump administration - a process that could take months. The data collected from these operations will help the USDOT and the 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 now require special authorizations. The wide interest in the US initiative, launched by President Donald Trump past year, underscores the desire of a broad range of companies to have a say in how the fledgling industry is regulated and ultimately win authority to operate drones for purposes ranging from package delivery to crop inspection.

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