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WP: Officials Seek To Expand Drone Use
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Mark The Droner
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In this morning's Washington Post (print edition) - here are some highlights - article is linked at the bottom


BISMARCK, N.D. — U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao on Wednesday announced 10 sites for a test program aimed at increasing the use of unmanned aircraft for projects that range from monitoring crops and oil pipelines in North Dakota to applying mosquito-killing treatments in Florida and package deliveries in Tennessee.

President Donald Trump signed a directive last year to establish the “innovation zones” that allow exemptions to some drone regulations, such as flying over people, nighttime flights and flights where the aircraft can’t be seen by the operator.

...

“Data gathered from these pilot projects will form the basis of a new regulatory framework to safely integrate drones into our national airspace,” Chao said in a statement.

Chao, who called the rapidly developing drone industry the biggest development since the jet age, said about 150 applications were received.

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Steven Bradbury, a lawyer for the federal Transportation Department, said drones have caused some “apprehension” with the public but one of the initiative’s biggest goals will be increased “community awareness and acceptance” of unmanned aircraft.

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Projects in Virginia, Kansas and Nevada are among those the Trump administration named Wednesday for a new program to sharply expand how drones can be used across the United States, seeking to accelerate growth in a booming sector with broad economic potential but also a range of security, safety and privacy concerns.

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Government officials point to more than 1 million drones already flying in the nation’s airspace, while industry groups have offered even higher sales numbers in recent years. Nimble and increasingly capable drones are generally barred from flying over people, at night or beyond the line of sight of the operator, and drone and technology industry backers are pushing to allow such missions on a broad basis.

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“So I am a property owner that lives in rural America, and one of these damn drones is flying over my house. . . . Can I shoot them out of the air? Is that legal?” Senator Tester asked.

Earl Lawrence, director of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office, told the senator: “It is not legal, sir. We hope that we don’t resort to shooting aircraft out of the air.”

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“You’ve highlighted our key struggle and why we are asking for remote ID and working so hard on that ..."

FAA officials say the era of anonymous drone flights must end if the social and economic benefits of the aircraft are to be achieved, and they are pushing for what amounts to electronic license plates to remotely identify drones and locate their pilots.

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There were some notable names that didn’t make the cut for the pilot program.

Chinese drone manufacturer DJI, which dominates the U.S. market, was not among the selectees, the company said.

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Amazon, whose chief executive, Jeffrey P. Bezos, owns The Washington Post, also was not among the winners.

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2018-5-10
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