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article imageNew array of drones to be tested in U.S. airspace

By Tim Sandle     May 11, 2018 in Technology
U.S. commercial drones, for a range of different applications, given the green light to fly across the U.S. by the government. Ten commercial drone projects in total have been approved.
The new types of drones to be tested in U.S. airspace include drones to monitor crops, control mosquito populations and deliver defibrillators. These are among the ten approved projects. However, some applications were not approved and, surprisingly, this include Amazon.
The new permits represent a change in policy for the U.S. government. Hitherto, the Federal Aviation Authority had very tight rules in place about the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems ('drones'). The rule in pace was that a permit was needed to fly a drone; however, operating a drone beyond line-of-sight flights and also at night-time was prohibited.
One reason for the concerns was because a report from the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) concluded that drones that collide with large manned aircraft will cause more structural damage than birds of the same weight for a given impact speed. The Federal Aviation Administration took the research results and developed operational and collision risk mitigation requirements for drones.
The softening of the stance on drones appears to have been influenced by the current U.S. administration. The new UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Integration Pilot Program is based on a new review of the challenges associated with integrating drones into national airspace.
The new projects approved include (according to Reuters):
Local government in Florida will use drones to control mosquito populations.
The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma will develop flying drones beyond a pilot's line of sight, in partnership with CNN.
North Carolina will test out food delivery services with Flytrex.
FedEx will collaborate with Memphis County Airport Authority using drones for security and infrastructure and to deliver parts.
The City of Reno in Nevada will work with Flirtey on delivering medical supplies.
Results from the pilots will be examined and further decisions made. The BBC quotes US secretary of transportation, Elaine Chao on the topic: "Data gathered from these pilot projects will form the basis of a new regulatory framework to safely integrate drones into our national airspace."
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