World's first passenger drone cleared for testing in Nevada

The Guardian

The world's first passenger drone capable of autonomously carrying a person in the air for 23 minutes has been given clearance for testing in Nevada. Chinese firm Ehang, which unveiled the electric Ehang 184 passenger drone at CES in Las Vegas in January, has partnered with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS) and the Governor's Office of Economic Development (Goed) to put the drone through testing and regulatory approval. Tom Wilczek, Goed's aerospace and defence specialist said: "The State of Nevada, through NIAS, will help guide Ehang through the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) regulatory process with the ultimate goal of achieving safe flight." The founder and chief executive of Ehang, Huazhi Hu, said the move would lay the foundation for the 184's commercialisation and kickstart the autonomous aerial transportation industry. Ehang hopes to begin testing later this year and will have to prove airworthiness to the FAA, with guidance from NIAS, before being able to operate in a wider capacity.


Pot delivery by drone? California cannabis czars put the kibosh on stoner pipe dream

Los Angeles Times

If you imagined the skies of California would someday be buzzing with drones carrying tiny vials of pot or edibles for recreational marijuana users, think again because that stoner fantasy was just a pipe dream. California's Bureau of Cannabis Control last week outlined its plans to ban pot delivery by drone, putting the kibosh on any business hoping to make a buck on the concept. On Wednesday, the bureau released an initial study describing proposed emergency regulations for commercial cannabis businesses ahead of Jan. 1, when marijuana sales, with proper retail licensing, will be allowed for recreational use in California. In its study -- Commercial Cannabis Business Licensing Program Regulations -- the bureau is clear: Marijuana must be transported in trailers or commercial vehicles. If the message was lost, the bureau goes a bit further: "Transportation may not be done by aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human-powered vehicles or unmanned vehicles."


Will UPS beat Amazon to drone delivery? Firm spotted testing craft for urgent medical deliveries over Massachusetts

Daily Mail

United Parcel Service (UPS) is newest competitor in the race to unleash the first fleet of delivery drones. The firm began testing the use of drones this week with a focus of bringing packages to remote or difficult-to-access locations. A mock delivery of urgent medical supplies was delivered from Beverly, Massachusetts to Children's Island as a test, which is the first drone delivery to be made by a major delivery firm in the US. United Parcel Service (UPS) is newest competitor in the race to unleash the first fleet of delivery drones. UPS announced today that it has begun testing the use of drones to make commercial deliveries of packages to remote or difficult-to-access locations, working together with drone-maker CyPhy Works.


Lufthansa jumbo reports near miss with drone over Los Angeles

The Guardian

The pilot of a Lufthansa passenger jumbo jet has reported that a drone aircraft nearly collided with his airliner on its landing approach to Los Angeles, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The close encounter between the wide-body, four-engine Airbus A380 and the drone occurred at about 1.30pm at an altitude of 5,000ft (152 metres) as the unmanned aircraft passed about 200ft (61 meters) over the Lufthansa flight 14 miles (22.5 km) east of the city's international airport, the FAA said. No evasive action was taken by the airline crew, and the plane, Lufthansa Flight 456, safely made its landing minutes later without further incident, according to FAA spokesman Ian Gregor. The FAA immediately alerted the Los Angeles police department's air support division. The number of passengers and crew aboard the plane was not reported by authorities, nor was the flight's origin.


Apple, Microsoft and Uber test drones approved but Amazon left out in cold

The Guardian

Apple, Intel, Microsoft and Uber will soon start flying drones for a range of tasks including food and package delivery, digital mapping and conducting surveillance as part of 10 pilot programmes approved Wednesday by the US government. The drone-testing projects have been given waivers for regulations that currently ban their use in the US and will be used to help the Federal Aviation Authority draw up suitable laws to govern the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for myriad tasks. "The enthusiastic response to our request for applications demonstrated the many innovative technological and operational solutions already on the horizon," said US transportation secretary Elaine Chao. Apple will be using drones to capture images of North Carolina with the state's Department of Transportation. Uber is working on air-taxi technology and will deliver food by drone in San Diego, California, because "we need flying burgers" said the company's chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi.