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Leadership / Digital Transformation

Trials of Mainstream Drone Delivery Technology to Start – but Amazon Misses Out

The US Department of Transport (USDOT) this week selected ten states which will undertake an “Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program.”

The programme will see unmanned drones designed and operated by a range of technology companies including Alphabet, Uber and Apple testing capabilities such as security surveillance, mapping, food and medical delivery.

Announcing the ten successful selections for the project US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said: “Data gathered from these pilot projects will form the basis of a new regulatory framework to safely integrate drones into our national airspace’’.

Drone Deliveries are Getting Closer

USDOT is operating this pilot program in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) who stated on their site: “Over the next two and a half years, the selectees will collect drone data involving night operations, flights over people and beyond the pilot’s line of sight, package delivery, detect-and-avoid technologies and the reliability and security of data links between pilot and aircraft.’’

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International delivery service FedEx was successful in its bid and will work with Memphis International Airport, who outlined that: “FedEx will operate UAS to inspect aircrafts, asset tracking, facility security and emergency response. FedEx will also utilise UAS to deliver small aircraft parts on a defined path in the north ramp area.’’

Drone delivery company Flirtey was selected to trial a pilot system of delivering automated external defibrillators within the city of Reno in Nevada.

While Uber was selected to trial a food deliver service in San Diego California, the FAA commented that this proposal “would employ a variety of available communications technologies, including 5G test networks and the 4G LTE cellular network and AT&T’s national first responder network authority.’’

Amazon would be expected to be included in a list of technology companies granted licences to trial drone technology, however their proposal to enter into an exploratory of drone capabilities to deliver packages in New York City was rejected by the FAA and DOTUS.

149 Proposals

Speaking on the projects that did not make it into the program Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said: “The enthusiastic response to our request for applications demonstrated the many innovative technological and operational solutions already on the horizon.’’ The FAA received 149 proposals for the pilot program.

In a report by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle System International (AUVSI) they found that within the United States alone that: “By 2025, we estimate more than 100,000 new jobs will be created nationally” with $82 billion in economic impact by 2025 as a result of UAS use.

Drones are also increasingly raising information security issues, as Computer Business Review reported previously.
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CBR Staff Writer

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