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Trump Gives Green Light for Additional Drone Testing

The industry could be getting one step closer to realizing regular drone deliveries.

President Donald Trump signed an executive memorandum this week, enabling the Department of Transportation to promote the safe operation of drones—also dubbed unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)—to increase drone use in many U.S. sectors, including commerce and transportation. With the memorandum, drones could potentially provide low cost capabilities for public and private use, create thousands of new U.S. jobs and boost the productivity of American industries.

As part of the memorandum, the Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will create a UAS Integration Pilot Program, which will expand the use of drones into the national airspace system (NAS). The program, which will be created within the next 90 days, will allow for state, local and tribal governments to take part in the development of Federal drone operations, enable drone owners and operators to safely test drone operations and inform the development of future federal guidelines and regulatory decisions on drone operations nationwide.

The Department of Transportation will work with State, local and tribunal governments to integrate civil and public drone operations into the NAS below 200 feet above ground level or up to 400 feet above ground level at various times of day. Within 180 days of the program’s establishment, the Department of Transportation will enter into agreements with state, local and tribunal governments to take part in the program. Once State, local and tribunal governments propose drone integration and testing, the Department of Transportation will collaborate with them on how drones will be operated in their communities and designate drone implementation, testing and regulation responsibilities among all parties.

[Read more on delivery technology: Swiss Test Drone Deliveries Though Questions Still Remain About Their Future]

To heighten the capabilities of drones in the future, the memorandum said it is crucial for the regulatory framework of drone operations to be flexible with drone technology advancements, comply with Federal privacy laws, mitigate risks to national security and protect the safety of American citizens and the nation’s airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has taken the steps to incorporate drones into the national airspace system (NAS) at specific test sites and already issued operational regulations for small drones in the NAS.

Amazon, recently published a patent for future drone delivery innovations—including beehive-like drone hubs from which to dispatch their flying delivery aids. As Trump’s drone program develops, it could open doors for further drone innovation and uptake in the U.S.

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