Drones are flown at a training class in Las Vegas in anticipation of new regulations allowing their commercial use. Drones are flown at a training class in Las Vegas in anticipation of new regulations allowing their commercial use. We are in "one of the most dramatic periods of change in the history of transportation," says Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. He was talking about all of it: the self-driving cars, the smart-city movement, the maritime innovations. The Federal Aviation Administration expects some 600,000 drones to be used commercially within a year.
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.
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.
When the FAA finally released commercial drone regulations earlier this year, many executives were disappointed . The rules -- especially the requirement that pilots keep drones within their line of sight -- dampened dreams of commercial delivery services. Steve Burns, CEO of Workhorse, a company that specializes in electric delivery trucks, has an unusually optimistic view. With that in mind, Workhorse plans to start using drones to deliver packages at the end of August. They have already been testing the system with a Section 333 Exemption, and the next step is conforming to the FAA's new rules.
The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS), in partnership with NASA UTM, conducted multiple drone tests at the Nevada UAS test site at the Reno-Stead Airport. The technology capability level 3 (TCL 3) focused on airspace management technologies seeking to enable the safe integration of UAS into the National Airspace Systems. The research areas during the testing covered UAS ground control interfacing to locally manage operations, communication, navigation, surveillance, human factors, data exchange, network solutions and BVLOS architecture. "The state of Nevada will be known for its significant contribution in this journey through its pioneering work with the FAA, NASA and private partners like ourselves, facilitating safe and effective integration into national airspace," says Mike Richards, President and CEO of Drone America. NASA, FAA and its partners, and NIAS are working on the innovations and the industry growth while respecting aviation safety traditions.