FAA picks six sites for commercial drone testing

By Daniel S Levine,

The Federal Aviation Administration has picked six diverse sites where companies will soon be allowed to test commercial drones, or unmanned aircraft. This will allow for the further development of the technology, which has previously been used exclusively by the military, for domestic use.

The sites are located in six different states around the country, from Alaska to New York, the agency said. Testing at the University of Alaska includes airspace over Hawaii and Oregon, while the entire State of Nevada will be considered a testing site, thanks to its unique geography.

New York’s Griffiss International Airport, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and North Dakota Department of Commerce were the other approved applicants for testing.

Each location will provide different ways to test and evaluate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). “Across the six applicants, the FAA is confident that the agency’s research goals of System Safety & Data Gathering, Aircraft Certification, Command & Control Link Issues, Control Station Layout & Certification, Ground & Airborne Sense & Avoid, and Environmental Impacts will be met,” the FAA said.

According to The New York Times, the news made some government officials happy, but others were less enthusiastic. “There’s an opportunity for economic development of a new industry, with the potential to be a billion-dollar industry,” Bronx assemblyman Luis R. Sepulveda told the Times. “But we have some concerns about privacy. These are devices that can be disguised in such a way that you don’t even know you’re being recorded.”

Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota praised the news, hoping that it helps drone industry and to “make sure it can become a key part of North Dakota’s economy.”

One of the companies that will also be happy about the news is Amazon, which announced an ambitious plan to delivery packages by drones.

image: Wikimedia Commons


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