Companies like Amazon and Domino’s have been teasing drone delivery for years. Who doesn’t want a future where the skies are buzzing with flying shipping boxes and steaming pizzas? That future isn’t too far off, but only if you live in one of the 10 areas that the government has allotted for testing. So who are the lucky Americans that will soon be seeing more drones?
The U.S. Department of Transportation has named10 areas across the country where increased drone testing will occur.
“The selectees include the cities of San Diego and Reno; the Choctaw Nation in Durant, Oklahoma; Virginia Tech; the departments of transportation in Kansas, North Carolina, and North Dakota; the Lee County Mosquito Control District in Ft. Myers, Florida; the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority in Memphis, Tennessee; and the University of Alaska in Fairbanks,” Slate reports.
The drone industry, and many of its potential commercial partners, see this as a mixed blessing. Drone delivery services are a potentially game-changing technology. While the wider roll-out will have to wait, at leat there is some official movement on the testing.
“The idea is that with these 10 programs, cities, tribes, and municipal agencies can partner with approved businesses to set their own rules for projects within prescribed areas and test out ways of safely integrating the technology into their airspace before broad federal laws are passed,” Slate notes.
“That means the Department of Transportation in Kansas might give approval for Microsoft, which it’s collaborating with for its testing program to help build a drone tracking system for drone deliveries throughout the state. Virginia Tech is working with Alphabet, the parent company of Google, which has a drone initiative called Project Wing.”
FedEx will be running tests in Memphis, their hub. “The test sites will be active for two and a half years and will share data they collect to the FAA and the U.S. Department of Transportation to help craft a federal plan for drone integration.”
As the program ramps up, the program will surely spread. As it does, the skies may get a bit more crowded, but the streets will likely clear a bit.