Thursday, October 26, 2017

Trump OKs drone experimentation plan; could make use and deliveries easier in rural areas

An delivery drone. (Amazon photo)
"President Donald Trump launched a program on Wednesday to expand testing of drones to include flights over people, nighttime operations and flights out of sight of the operator," David Shepardson reports for Reuters.

"The pilot program aims to speed up the integration of unmanned aerial vehicles into the national airspace system and test drone detection and tracking while waiving some limits on their use." That could benefit rural areas, and make use of them in agriculture more practical. Drones also could be used to deliver life-saving medications to remote areas, and retail giants like Amazon could deliver packages for less. UPS and FedEx charge extra fees to deliver packages to some rural areas.

Trump's Oct. 25 memo means "states and local governments would be able to seek Federal Aviation Administration approval for testing and expanded use," Shepardson reports. "The White House stopped short of proposing new regulations that would allow broader nationwide use of drones or any timetable for new authority. The memo said the Transportation Department could allow drone flights at up to 400 feet with the goal of approving at least five pilot projects. The program would expire in three years."

The Transportation Department website said that the cost of the program will be revealed soon.

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