Such modes are seen as essential for widescale commercial applications such as the package delivery systems that Amazon, Walmart and other retailers are working on.
Drone delivery in the US could soon be a reality, as US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced 10 test projects that will allow companies including Alphabet, FedEx, and Uber to test the unmanned aircrafts across the country.
A total of149 bids were drawn from locales looking to host flights at night, flights over people and other drone operations that are now prohibited under U.S. regulations. The applicants listed companies they would partner with in the experiments, and the winners may have a head start at the billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs the young industry expects to create.
"The enthusiastic response to our request for applications demonstrated the many innovative technological and operational solutions already on the horizon", said United States transportation secretary Elaine Chao. She, also, did not rule out Amazon's project receiving approval citing a rigorous process.
The drone-testing projects have been given waivers for regulations that now ban their use in the USA and will be used to help the Federal Aviation Authority draw up suitable laws to govern the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for myriad tasks. Nevada-based Flirtey, a drone delivery startup, said it was a partner on four of the winning applications including Virginia Tech's.
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Handling local issues, such as whether your neighbor can get a package delivered by drone at midnight, would be a hard challenge for the Federal Aviation Administration, according to experts. The company believes the tests are an important step for helping the industry overcome public unease about privacy and nuisance issues raised by the growth of small drones, said William Goodwin, AirMap's general counsel.
Despite being sidelined for now, Amazon and China's SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd both offered support for the program. Taking aside from those made by other companies like DJI and Propel.
Drones that monitor crops, control mosquito populations and deliver defibrillators are to be tested in U.S. airspace.
The selected cities are San Diego, California; Reno, Nevada; Bismark, North Dakota; Memphis, Tennessee; Durant, Oklahoma; Herndon, Virginia; Topeka, Kansas; Raleigh, North Carolina; Fort Myers, Florida, and Fairbanks, Alaska.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for Memphis International Airport and its partners to explore how drones can be safely and effectively utilized in the Mid-South", Brockman said.
The FAA has said regulations are necessary to protect the public and the National Airspace System from bad actors or errant hobbyists.
Earlier, the agency confirmed it had sent two planned rules to the White House to regulate the increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles. Researchers hope to make drone deliveries a routine part of life in the state, though feedback from local residents will determine the technology's future.