Apple given permission to use drones to improve Apple Maps

10 teams win federal approval to push the limits with drones, but Amazon's left out

Virginia center selected as site for drone flight program

And customers in Virginia could be awaiting Alphabet Inc.'s flying devices to get goods they ordered. Asked why the Transportation Department had not selected Amazon or DJI, deputy transportation secretary Jeff Rosen told Reuters that the projects had gone through a rigorous review process.

San Diego is among 10 areas around the US that will take part in a federal program that is testing drone technology and innovation.

"The enthusiastic response to our request for applications demonstrated the many innovative technological and operational solutions already on the horizon", the secretary added.

Over the next two and a half years, the awardees will collect a wide variety of drone data, helping the FAA "craft new enabling rules that allow more complex low-altitude operations, identify ways to balance local and national interests related to UAS integration, improve communications with local, state and tribal jurisdictions, address security and privacy risks, and accelerate the approval of operations that now require special authorizations".

The U.S. Department of Transportation picked the airport authority and nine other organizations for its Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program.

Drones that monitor crops, control mosquito populations and deliver defibrillators are to be tested in USA airspace. In Reno, drones will carry defibrillators to heart attack victims.

Airport Authority president Scott Brockman and U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, said FedEx, the airport's largest customer, is key to the project. Memphis International is the hub for operations by FedEx, which is a partner in the program.

The contest drew 149 bids from locales looking to host flights at night, flights over people and other drone operations that US rules prohibit. Virginia Tech said that it would explore emergency management, package delivery and infrastructure inspection by drone, partnering with Alphabet's Project Wing, AT&T, Intel, Airbus and Dominion Energy. The data collected will help the USDOT and the FAA craft new regulations. This could be a precursor to the company's recently announced plan to develop flying taxis.

"There's a lot of excitement", said Lisa Ellman, a partner in the Washington office of law firm Hogan Lovells, who represents companies in the industry. "I think so. It will work, and it will happen, and it's gonna be a lot of fun".

Meghan Markle wax figure unveiled at Madame Tussauds Museum in London
We're not the only ones getting incredibly excited about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding next weekend. Leonora continued: 'She said I should always be prepared to face rejection but to keep following my dreams.

The Cupertino giant said that it has plans to use this testing programme as an opportunity to better Apple Maps after several failures in the past.

In an emailed statement, Amazon said it's not working with any of the 10 teams that were selected in the first round for the UAS IPP program.

But Amazon, which wants to offer drone parcel deliveries, has not been chosen. The pilot program is aimed at producing data to assist the Federal Aviation Administration in establishing rules and regulations to safely integrate drones at scale. It began limited drone deliveries in the United Kingdom in 2016.

There isn't any drone delivery in the US yet, but Alphabet has been testing delivering packages to people's backyards in Australia.

Chao said companies that didn't win should keep the federal government abreast of their work, because there were "no losers" after yesterday's announcement. About a dozen applications that included DJI were rejected.

Under current regulations, small drones must fly within 400 feet of the ground, operate during the day and stay within sight of their operators. This will free up drones to do everything from deliver food and medicine to inspect critical infrastructure.

Numerous programs include plans to fly on longer-range operations outside of the view of a drone's ground operator. Operations will include (beyond visual line of sight), night and over people. After both are formally proposed, it could take months before they are finalized.

With assistance from Thomas Black.

Latest News