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.
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.
"In order to ensure that our airspace remains the safest in the world, and to enable our law enforcement and national security partners to identify security risks, we need to know who is operating in the airspace", Lawrence said. Asked about Amazon's absence, Deputy Transportation Secretary Jeff Rosen cited a rigorous process and said there were "no losers". It began limited drone deliveries in the United Kingdom in 2016.
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Nevada also submitted a statewide application that included dozens of partners from Nevada-grown companies and Fortune 50 corporations. Current rules prohibit nighttime drone flights or operations over people without a waiver from the FAA.
Lawrence provided committee members with information about FAA efforts to enhance UAS airspace authorization and traffic management through the nationwide beta test of the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC), which allows drone operators to request and receive real-time authorization from the agency. Zipline's CEO, Keller Rinaudo, said: "Today is an important first step towards bringing Zipline's lifesaving drone delivery technology to the United States..."
The startup will have to hire more people, ramp up its testing and add more features to its drones - all of which will require more money, and Flirtey will complete another financing round this year, Siegel said. General Electric Co is also a partner, he said.
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"Kansas is once again leading the way on the national and global stage", he said.
Earlier, the department confirmed it had sent two planned rules to the White House to regulate the increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles. Several incidents around major airports have involved drones getting close to aircraft.
One of the new rules would allow drones to fly over people while the other would allow for remote identification and tracking of unmanned aircraft in flight.
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Apple is one of a number of big companies seeking permission to be part of a new US drone testing program, launched by President Donald Trump a year ago.