A little more than six months after President Trump announced the creation of a program to stimulate the development of drone testing throughout the country, the Department of Transportation has announced the first 10 winners. Among those selected, three state transportation agencies, two US cities. UU And two universities will work with private companies such as FedEx and CNN on tests that will see drones being used for tasks such as package delivery, journalism, medical care and more.
"This is such an exciting day for aviation, safety and innovation," said the US Secretary of Transportation. UU., Elaine Chao, at an event today in Washington, DC. The United States is at a "turning point" with the drones, he said, since 1.1 million of them (and 90,000 pilots) have been registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. "We have to create a path for the safe integration of drones if our country wants to remain a world leader in aviation and reap the safety and economic benefits that drones have to offer."
Formally known as a pilot of unmanned aircraft systems integration, the program encourages cities and states in the United States. UU to partner with companies in drone testing that expand the way aircraft are used throughout the country. This includes, in some cases, allowing drones to fly over crowds, beyond the pilot's line of sight, and at night – situations that are generally forbidden unless the person flying gets an official FAA exemption.
The objective of the program is to accelerate the possible commercial applications for the use of drones. One of the 10 selections is the Mosquito Control District of Lee County of Florida. The small government agency will use drones to help control mosquito populations by finding bags of larvae that are difficult to find at a faster pace than inspectors can do on foot, while reducing the risk of bites. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma will work on unmanned aircraft beyond the line of sight of a pilot as part of a partnership with CNN.
A popular use for drones has so far been that of delivery services, and many of them were announced today. The DOT of North Carolina was selected to work with a company called Flytrex to test the food delivery service that the startup has been carrying out in Iceland. The Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority of Tennessee was chosen to test deliveries in partnership with FedEx, which is based in Memphis. (The authority said it will also test the use of drones for security inspection and infrastructure at the airport).
The city of Reno, Nevada was chosen to work with Flirtey, a company that focuses on using drones to deliver medical supplies. Flirtey was responsible for the first drone delivery approved by the FAA in 2015. "I would like to thank President Trump for making the drone era in America a reality," said Flirtey CEO Matthew Sweeney during the event. The two sides say they hope to create a model for medical deliveries that can be expanded to be used throughout the country.
The 10 winners were selected from 149 proposals, according to the DOT. His work is not finished, which seems to be partly where there is still a lack of details for some of the programs. The agencies behind each selected idea will now have to send "memoranda of agreement" to the FAA, which will establish the full details of each test. Once that part of the process is completed, they will have about two and a half years to run the tests. And they will have to share the information they collect along the way with the Department of Transportation and the FAA, which according to the agencies will help pave the way for better rules at the national level on how drones should be used in the future.