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undergroundnewsroom.com May 27, 2018


Chao names participants selected for drone pilot program

10 May 2018, 02:09 | Gordon Grant

Who wouldn't want their new iPhone delivered via drone

Apple drone

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao on Wednesday announced 10 sites for a test program aimed at increasing the use of unmanned aircraft for projects that range from monitoring crops and oil pipelines in North Dakota to applying mosquito-killing treatments in Florida and package deliveries in Tennessee. The city is partnered with Nevada-based Flirtey, a company that has worked on delivering defibrillators by drone, as well as pizza for Domino'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.

A spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, another victor, said Apple Inc is among its partners, and Apple said it plans to use the testing program to improve Apple Maps by capturing aerial images.

Earl Lawrence, director of FAA's UAS Office, said at a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security that development of the remote ID requirement for drone aircraft is vital to greatly expanding the use of larger and heavier UAS craft, and the safe integration of drones into the US national airspace.

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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. The program is also meant help the Federal Aviation Administration develop ground rules around commercial drone use across the country.

That means San Diegans will be some of the first in the nation to experience drone-powered conveniences such as food delivery from Uber in minutes. Apple itself adds on to this, saying that it will use drone tests in North Carolina to improve Apple Maps with aerial images. The winning projects reportedly focus on things like package delivery, agriculture, and flying drones near airports. Another partner is General Electric Co, he said.

The unmanned aircraft industry has pushed for relaxed restrictions. After both are formally proposed, it would take months or even more than a year before they are finalized. The FAA has no requirements or voluntary standards for electrically broadcasting information to identify an unmanned aircraft. The wide interest in the USA initiative, launched by President Donald Trump a year ago, 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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