US sends rules on drone regulation to White House for review

Larry Hoffman
May 11, 2018

Apple to use drone services for bettering its Apple maps services.

Details were scarce, with no information on the role Intel and GE will play. It is said to also involve companies that intend to test drones for delivering packages, environmental monitoring, precision agriculture, pipeline oversight, and for various uses at airports.

Almost 150 applications were submitted, and Memphis is now one of 10 cities taking part in this two-year nationwide study.

Reno, Nevada-based drone delivery company Flirtey will work with four of the 10 cities on its project to carry defibrillators to heart attack patients.

Meanwhile, the startup AirMap, whose technology provides a map of low-altitude airspace, will partner with six of the 10 locations approved by the DOT for projects. Asked about Amazon's absence, Deputy Transportation Secretary Jeff Rosen cited a rigorous process and said there were "no losers".

There isn't any drone delivery in the US yet, but Alphabet has been testing delivering packages to people's backyards in Australia. Each matches drone companies and state or local governments willing to shoulder some of the responsibilities for developing the technology. And it comes as people find more reasons to cast drones into the sky - from aerial inspections of all kinds to the Olympics.

The DOT culled 10 pilot projects from 149 applications.

President Donald Trump announced the initiative to safely test and advance operations for drones last fall.

And it'll ensure drone innovation happens in the United States, Goodwin added. The company itself does not sell any drones until now.

"Data gathered from these pilot projects will form the basis of a new regulatory framework to safely integrate drones into our national airspace", said U.S. secretary of transportation, Elaine Chao.

But Amazon, which wants to offer drone parcel deliveries, has not been chosen.

The current legislation lags behind the technology in many countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, with most novel uses ruled out by regulations that prohibit the flying of drones over people and out of the line of sight.

The unmanned devices will be used for multiple purposes in Memphis, said Scott Brockman, president of Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority.

In each of the testing zones, which range from California to rural Kansas, drones are able to be tested in ways that are not permitted elsewhere in the country.

Missing from the projects are Amazon.com Inc, the world's largest online retailer, and China's DJI, the world's largest maker of non-military drones. The company believes the tests are an important step for helping the industry overcome public unease about privacy and nuisance issues raised by the growth of small drones, said William Goodwin, AirMap's general counsel. An application that would have seen Amazon deliver goods by drone to shoppers in New York City was also declined, a person familiar with the matter said.

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