The U.S. Department of Transportation has named 10 agencies to participate in its Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) pilot program to accelerate safe UAS integration. Each agency will evaluate its own operational concepts, including public safety and use by first responders, package delivery, and delivery of time-sensitive medical equipment.
The Integration Pilot Program will help the USDOT and the Federal Aviation Administration craft new rules regarding low-altitude operations. Fields that could see immediate opportunities from the program include emergency management, commerce, photography, agricultural support, and infrastructure inspections, according to the USDOT.
The awarded agencies and their areas of focus are:
San Diego’s local program will include projects such as flying medical specimens from the University of California, San Diego; enhancing public safety by deploying drones to incident scenes in advance of first responders; testing food delivery from restaurants to consumers using Uber; and testing the integration and communication between driverless cars and unmanned aircraft systems.
The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma will focus on agricultural, public safety, and infrastructure inspections.
The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority in Herdon, Va., will focus on package delivery in rural and urban settings.
The Kansas Department of Transportation will work on deploying UAS to support beyond visual line of sight operations in rural communities.
Lee County Mosquito Control District in Florida will focus on control and surveillance of the mosquito population.
The Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority in Tennessee will focus on the inspection of FedEx aircraft and autonomous operations.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation will test localized package delivery.
The North Dakota Department of Transportation will focus on UAS operations at night and beyond visual line of sight.
The City of Reno, Nev., will focus on the time-sensitive delivery of life-saving medical equipment such as in emergency situations.
The University of Alaska-Fairbanks will focus on pipeline inspections and surveying in remote areas and harsh climactic conditions.