UPS behind first regular commercial drone delivery in America

President Donald Trump signed a directive in 2017 to establish the ‘innovation zones’ that allow exemptions to some drone regulations, such as flying over people, nighttime flights and flights where the aircraft can’t be seen by the operator. 

States, communities and tribes selected to participate would devise their own trial programs in partnership with government and industry drone users.

‘Data gathered from these pilot projects will form the basis of a new regulatory framework to safely integrate drones into our national airspace,’ US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said in a statement.

Ms Chao, who called the rapidly developing drone industry the biggest development since the jet age, said about 150 applications were received.

Ten sites have been included in a the Federal Aviation Administration’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program. 

Selected were the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma; the cities of San Diego, California, and Reno, Nevada; state transportation departments in North Dakota, North Carolina and Kansas; University of Alaska-Fairbanks; the Center for Innovative Technology in Virginia; Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority in Memphis, Tennessee; and the Lee County Mosquito Control District in Fort Meyers, Florida.

North Dakota lieutenant governor Brent Sanford said the program will spur more commercial investment and ‘allow us to explore new uses for unmanned aircraft.’

He envisioned drones helping with oil field, flood and weather monitoring, and ‘finding missing persons.’

The unmanned aircraft industry has pushed for relaxed restrictions, and the Trump administration has said current regulations have limited drone use, forcing companies to test overseas.

Steven Bradbury, a lawyer for the federal Transportation Department, said drones have caused some ‘apprehension’ with the public but one of the initiative’s biggest goals will be increased ‘community awareness and acceptance’ of unmanned aircraft.

Mr Bradbury said there is no direct federal funding for the test program.


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