Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

City of Memphis selected to help government test drones

Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast rewritten or redistributed Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast rewritten or redistributed
Grady Vargas | 11 May, 2018, 02:05

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.

"While it's unfortunate the applications we were involved with were not selected, we support the administration's efforts to create a pilot program aimed at keeping America at the forefront of aviation and drone innovation", said Brian Huseman, vice president of Amazon public policy. Founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post, a newspaper Trump supporters refer to as the "Washington Compost" because of its sometimes critical reporting on the administration.

It has drone development centers and test sites in a variety of countries, including the U.S.as well as Britain, Austria, France and Israel. Researchers hope to make drone deliveries a routine part of life in the state, though feedback from local residents will determine the technology's future. And it comes as people find more reasons to cast drones into the sky - from aerial inspections of all kinds to the Olympics.

This new initiative, under Trump-appointed transportation secretary Elaine Chao, is meant to speed up the integration of autonomous drones into the USA airspace by conducting tests at smaller areas around the country, in partnership with drone-technology companies.

Once the winners are announced, "the FAA will be reaching out to other applicants, as well as interested state and local authorities, to provide additional information on how to operationalize their proposed projects", Lawrence said in his remarks.

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program was launched past year by President Trump after the U.S. fell behind in drone experimentation.

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The ten companies granted permission to begin drone testing was announced by US Transport secretary Elaine Chao. An application that would have seen Amazon deliver goods by drone to shoppers in New York City was also declined, a person familiar with the matter said.

The governments selected will gather a wide range drone-related data over the next 2-1/2 years to help develop that framework.

"Apple is committed to protecting people's privacy, including processing this data to blur faces and license plates prior to publication", said the tech giant to Reuters as a response to queries around usage of drones for Apple Maps. Deliveries in the Memphis proposal involve only aircraft parts at the airport and the 4,500-acre Shelby Farms Park in Memphis. No federal funds will be spent on the program.

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.

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

"The UAS Integration Pilot Program will help tackle the most significant challenges to integrating drones into the national airspace and will reduce risks to public safety and security", the Transportation Department said in a statement.

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