The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has selected six sites in various states that will host tests for the commercial use of drones. The tests are part of a programme to develop safety and operational regulations for drones, which are hoped will be ready by the end of 2015.
Although drones are mainly used by the military, it seems everyone wants to explore their potential use. Delivery companies such as UPS and Amazon have already expressed an interest, as well as real estate agents and farmers.
Michael Huerta, head of the FAA, said that safety is top of the priority list before they allow a mass of drones to take to the skies.
In a statement the FAA said that the decision to carry out the tests followed a 10-month process, which involved proposals from 24 states. Lots of factors had been taken into consideration such as geography, airspace use, climate, aviation experience and risk.
It is expected that the commercial drone industry will be mainly made up of use by law enforcement and agriculture. The police could potentially use them for crowd control, taking photographs of crime scenes or for search and rescue missions. Whereas farmers could spray crops or survey land and livestock with the unmanned aircraft.
The sites chosen for the tests locations are:
- Seven zones with varying climates, spreading from Hawaii to Oregon
- The Griffiss International Airport in central New York will be testing how drones integrate into congested airspace
- North Dakota Department of Commerce, which will test the human impact of drones as well as test how they cope in temperate climates
- Nevada will be looking at the standards for air traffic and drone operators
- Safety requirements and air worthiness will be tested by the Texas A&M University
- Virginia Tech University will investigate operational and technical issues surrounding the use of drones
There has been a mixed reaction to the proposed tests, with both Conservatives and Liberals voicing their criticisms about the use of drones. Whereas lawmakers from the announced test sites say they are delighted with the decision.
“This is wonderful news for Nevada that creates a huge opportunity for our economy,” said Senator Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada.
[Image via SF Examiner]