11 May 2018

Drone Integration Partners Announced

Last year, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a new programme to give regulation of the drone industry a boost. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has announced the 10 state, local, and tribal governments that will participate.

By Tom Dent-Spargo

Sunlike / Shutterstock.com

The Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration Pilot Program (UASIPP) is designed to give a clearer and stronger role for state and local governments in regulating drones. http://www.roboticslawjournal.com/global/us-drone-regulation-receives-a-boost-91675109 Originally only five applications from governments were going to be selected but due to huge interest across the country, this was increased to ten. 

Drone industry players also applied to the programme to work with the selected governments to test various aspects of drones that require further regulation, such as flying Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLoS). These aspects are not covered under current regulations but they are seen as necessary to fully realise the potential of drone technology. This programme offers the opportunity to explore the benefits to communities of using drones in these ways, while evaluating how best to integrate these applications into the sector as a whole.

Drone deliveries represented half of the ten selected programmes, showcasing just how profitable this area is seen as being. A big name to miss out was Amazon, which has been pushing forwards with its plans for drone deliveries in tests overseas and was hoping to continue testing at home. Instead the projects focus more on delivery of medical equipment, seen as being more beneficial than simply adding further convenience to delivery of consumer goods, and it’s hard to argue with the logic there. Even for those companies that miss out on direct participation, the information gathered from the programme will likely benefit all companies across the entire industry as it helps to open out the field of drone deliveries, when combined with advances in Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) to safely integrate drones into the national airspace.

The ten selected partners are:

  • Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Durant, OK
  • City of San Diego, CA
  • Virginia Tech – Center for Innovative Technology, Herndon, VA
  • Kansas Department of Transportation, Topeka, KS
  • Lee County Mosquito Control District, Ft. Myers, FL
  • Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, Memphis, TN
  • North Carolina Department of Transportation, Raleigh, NC
  • North Dakota Department of Transportation, Bismarck, ND
  • City of Reno, NV
  • University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK


References:     Department of Transport        FAA         DroneLife       sUAS News 


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