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Test drones get approval

Apple, Intel, Microsoft and Uber are among a number of businesses who have been given the greenlight by the US government for ten pilot drone projects - including mapping, aircraft inspection and food delivery.

The announcement comes at a time when almost every industry is looking at implementing drones in some way, or another, whether that’s in transport, mining, agriculture or construction.

Over the next decade the industry, in the US at least, could be worth over $80billion and create thousands of new jobs.

These drone-testing projects have been given waivers for regulations that currently ban their use in the US and are expected to be used by the Federal Aviation Authority to help draw up future laws to help frame and govern the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

According to the US transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, there was an enthusiastic response to the government’s request for applications to demonstrate innovative technological and operational solutions. She also suggested that dozens more projects could be approved in the coming months.

Current legislation relating to UAVs lags well behind the technology in many countries and in many cases, prohibits the flying of drones over people and out of the line of sight.

While the framework for regulating UAVs is still somewhat hazy, and new regulations in the US are awaiting formal proposal and approval by the Trump administration, the march of the drones appears to be speeding up.

Expect to hear a lot more about their deployment, in many different roles, in the not too distant future.

Neil Tyler

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