Drones That Monitor Mosquito Populations To Be Tested In US

Apple to Participate in Government Drone Testing Program

Hundreds of companies are competing for one of 10 slots in a new US drone project

"Data gathered from these pilot projects will form the basis of a new regulatory framework to safely integrate drones into our national airspace", said United States secretary of transportation, Elaine Chao.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the winners Wednesday for the three-year drone program where states, local communities and tribes can devise their own trials.

"Technology is developing so rapidly that our country has reached a tipping point", Chao said.

A total of149 bids were drawn from locales looking to host flights at night, flights over people and other drone operations that are now prohibited under U.S. regulations.

Pilot projects will send drones where no drones have gone before.

The announcement is among the boldest from the government regarding drones.

Other agencies approved by the FAA sought to use new drone projects related to checking pipelines and other infrastructure, border security, controlling mosquitoes and delivering medical equipment.

There are a bevy of independent drone companies involved in the pilot, including Fortem, AirMap, Zipline and Matternet.

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Among the winners were microchip maker Intel Corp, plane maker Airbus SE, ride services company Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL], delivery company FedEx Corp and software maker Microsoft Corp.

Apple was one of a number of companies that applied to be part of the USA drone testing program, with Intel, Airbus, Uber, FedEx and Microsoft also having drone projects approved.

The city and surrounding county will partner with the Tennessee Airport Authority, Agricenter International, an agricultural research nonprofit, and FedEx, to inspect FedEx aircraft, and potentially develop drone deliveries as well. Many big names such as Amazon has resorted to carrying out their drone testing procedures in the UK.

Such modes are seen as essential for widescale commercial applications such as the package delivery systems that Amazon, Walmart and other retailers are working on. Officials say current regulations have limited drone use, forcing companies to test overseas. And customers in Virginia could be awaiting Alphabet Inc.'s flying devices to get goods they ordered.

There's a small chance that quite soon, you might actually, finally, be able to get something delivered in the United States by an autonomous drone.

Handling local issues, such as whether your neighbor can get a package delivered by drone at midnight, would be a hard challenge for the Federal Aviation Administration, according to experts.

"Drones are a part of our aviation future", Chao said at an event in Washington DC. AirMap now operates in New Zealand, Switzerland and Japan. They will also deliver parts and provide emergency response. But with local and state governments on board, potential adversaries to drone experiments become champions.

The IPP makes pilot projects easier, but it doesn't eliminate certification requirements.

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