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Trump administration gives the go ahead to 10 drone projects including several involving CNN and FedEx

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The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced 10 state, local and tribal governments to participate in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program.

Six months ago, President Trump announced the program which was intended to spur innovation in the American UAV sector. These moves may, in part, be the American response to Chinese dominance in the consumer drone market. Shenzen-based DJI are presently responsible for more than 70 percent of global consumer drone sales.

149 groups applied for the US program and the 10 selectees include partnerships between local authorities, universities and big companies like CNN and FedEx. The initiative is intended as a collaboration between the government and private companies to investigate, in safe test environments, the capabilities of drones in areas such journalism, healthcare, photography, agriculture and package deliveries.

The drone program will enable drones to fly in controlled circumstances outside of what would normally be permitted. This means the drones in the program could be granted permission to fly over crowds or at night, both of which are currently forbidden.

The US DOT predicts that the potential economic benefit of integrating more UAV’s into the nation’s airspace is $82 billion. They also foresee as many of 100,000 new US jobs associated with the industry.

The program will run for two years, during which time the participants will gather data. This data will enable the USDOT and FAA to create new rules which strike a balance between local and national interests related to UAV integration but also address security and privacy risks.

Who are some of the drone program winners?

  •  North Carolina’s DOT will work with Flytrex to test the food drone delivery service in collaboration with supermarket chain Iceland.
  • Tennessee’s Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority will test deliveries in partnership with FedEx
  • The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma will investigate flying drones beyond a pilot’s line of sight as part of a partnership with CNN.

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