New US regulations on drone testing will spur business innovations

The US Department of Transportation have announced testing areas which will help inform new regulations that will integrate drones into the US airspace in the coming years.
10 May 2018

This initiative will give businesses more freedom for research. Source: Shutterstock

Businesses in the US are set to gain more freedom to experiment with drones after the government have loosened regulations.

US transportation secretary Elain Chao announced on Wednesday that several state and local governments were to be involved in the drone testing programmes, with the creation of 10 light-touch regulatory zones for companies to test drone services.

The introduction of the test zones means faster approval for experiments that could lead to powerful use-cases of drones such as carrying medical supplies, inspecting building sites, and even the transportation of humans.

“Our country is on the verge of the most significant new development in aviation since the emergence of the jet age,” Chao said at a press conference.

“We’ve got to create a path forward for the safe integration of drones if our country is to remain a global aviation leader and reap the safety and economic benefits drones have to offer,” she added.

In each of the testing zones, which range from California to rural Kansas, drones are able to be tested in ways that are not permitted elsewhere in the country. This includes flying drones over people at night and outside of a pilot’s line of sight.

The announcement of the new testing project is part of The Integration Pilot Program announced in November.

Drone companies will be matched with state or local governments in the journey to develop the technology in various areas. In Florida, for instance, drones will be used to survey the mosquito population.

These loosened regulations seem to be a response to the complaints of many businesses in the US of the current regulations inhibiting innovation in the field. Many big names such as Amazon has resorted to carrying out their drone testing procedures in the UK.

But now it seems that the US government has adopted a fresh new way of thinking about the flying technology, which is sure to spur more exciting and powerful applications.

The business uses of drones have really accelerated in the past year. The aircraft technology is being leveraged in many innovative ways including helping real estate agents provide potential buyers with aerial views of properties, building companies using drones for site inspection, as well as the potential for retailers to soon deliver your goods to your door in an instant.

The number of jobs that will be created as a result of the integration of drones into US airspace is said to be around 70,000 within the first three years. According to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a drone lobby group, roughly half of these jobs will be in the manufacturing space.

“Drones are a part of our aviation future,” Chao said at an event in Washington DC.

“This is vital to making sure America reaps the important benefits of this new technology. That includes saving lives, creating new jobs and strengthening our country’s competitiveness.”