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DOT unveils participants in pilot program for commercial drone safety

Image: Daniel Paes/Georgia Institute of Technology

Washington — The Department of Transportation on May 9 announced the participants in a pilot program intended to promote the safe commercial operation and integration of drones in agriculture, commerce, emergency management, human transportation and other sectors.

DOT introduced the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program in an Oct. 25 memorandum signed by President Donald Trump, and outlined it further in a notice published in the Nov. 8 Federal Register. Entities in government and the private sector submitted applications.

“Data gathered from these pilot projects will form the basis of a new regulatory framework to safely integrate drones into our national airspace,” Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said in a May 9 press release.

The 10 participants will follow the general authority of the Federal Aviation Administration. They are:

  • Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma – Durant, OK
  • City of San Diego
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority – Herndon, VA
  • Kansas DOT – Topeka, KS
  • Lee County Mosquito Control District – Ft. Meyers, FL
  • Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority – Memphis, TN
  • North Carolina DOT – Raleigh, NC
  • North Dakota DOT – Bismarck, ND
  • City of Reno, NV
  • University of Alaska, Fairbanks

“The enthusiastic response to our request for applications demonstrated the many innovative technological and operational solutions already on the horizon,” Chao said in the release.

According to a March 2013 report from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, integration of drones into the National Airspace System will create more than 70,000 new jobs in the first three years, including 34,000 in manufacturing.

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