The Strategist

US to test commercial use of UAVs

05/14/2018 - 15:18

The US authorities approved ten pilot programs, within which companies will be able to test commercial use of drones. The list of winners included Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft and Uber. The US authorities will monitor implementation of these programs and, on the basis of the data obtained, develop new rules for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

On Wednesday, the US Department of Transportation approved several pilot programs for commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles. Thus, companies that have received approval will be able to use drones for a variety of purposes - from aerial photography and checking status of various objects before delivery of goods. Among the companies whose UAV programs have been approved are technological giants Apple, Alphabet and Microsoft, online taxi service Uber, logistics company FedEx.

Ten testing zones were allocated for testing. So, Apple will use the UAV for aerial photography in North Carolina in partnership with the local Ministry of Transport. FedEx and Intel will cooperate with Memphis Airport, where drones will be used to provide security, check condition of aircraft and deliver components for them. In Virginia, Alphabet will take delivery of goods with the help of UAV to various communities, after which opinions about this service will be collected from local residents. Flirtey startup, who was one of the first to test delivery with the help of UAV in 2015, will deliver drugs to Nevada. 

So far, it is all about testing possibilities of using drones. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is going to monitor implementation of the programs in order to prepare new rules for the commercial use of UAVs. In 2016, the FAA introduced the first rules for the use of commercial drones, according to which they can fly only during the day, within sight and must not fly over people. In the framework of FAA-approved programs, drones will not have to comply with these rules: for example, they can be used at night, they will be allowed to fly over people. Elaine Chao, the U. S. Secretary of Transportation, stated: "The data collected during these pilot projects will form the basis of a new regulatory framework for the safe integration of unmanned aerial vehicles into our airspace."

The FAA selected ten projects out of 149 submitted applications. Among the companies that failed to get approval of the regulator were online retailer Amazon, which has already tested delivery of goods using UAV, as well as Chinese company DJI, the world's largest manufacturer of commercial drones.