The US government is making good on its promise to expand the use of drones. The Department of Transportation has named the 10 projects that will participate in its Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program, and they represent a wide swath of the country. Most of them are municipal or state government bodies, including the cities of Reno and San Diego, Memphis' County Airport Authority and the Transportation Departments for Kansas, North Carolina and North Dakota. However, the rest are notable: the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma will be part of the program, as will the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and Virginia Tech. Notably, Virginia Tech is working with Google's Project Wing drone delivery initiative as well as transportation and tech giants like Airbus, AT&T and Intel.
Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. On May 9, the Department of Transportation announced the first 10 project sites it chose to participate in its new three-year Drone Integration Pilot Program aimed at expanding the testing of new drone technology in a select number of local, state, and tribal jurisdictions. Selected from 149 lead applicants and over 2,800 private sector "interested parties," they're an eclectic bunch: the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma; projects in the city of San Diego; the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority in Herndon, Virginia; the Lee County Mosquito Control District in Florida; the Memphis–Shelby County Airport Authority in Tennessee; the North Carolina, Kansas, and North Dakota departments of transportation; the city of Reno, Nevada; and the University of Alaska–Fairbanks all saw their specific public-private partnership proposals get the greenlight. The projects include plans to test various kinds of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS for short, as they are formally known), including drone-based mapping, inspections, traffic and weather monitoring, commercial and medical delivery, and law enforcement surveillance systems. Selected applicants will be given special attention from the Federal Aviation Administration.
It's not exactly autonomous, but it works. Nissan believes the fastest way to get driverless cars on the road is to give them remote human support – and it's using NASA technology to do it. Nissan demonstrated its Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM) platform at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, which incorporates a degree of teleoperation into the autonomous car system. Although vehicles will be able to drive themselves most of the time, human "mobility managers" can remotely take control in unexpected situations. "Autonomy systems are not simple, it is a very hard problem," says Maarten Sierhuis, director of Nissan's Research Center in Sunnyvale, California.
A driverless car is displayed during a Google event in San Francisco in 2016. The Trump administration rolled out new non-binding guidelines Wednesday for regulating driverless cars and trucks -- its second move this week to advance a light-touch approach to tech regulation that contrasts with the strategy key European leaders are advocating. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao used the big CES technology conference in Las Vegas to announce the driverless-vehicle guidelines, which her department developed in conjunction with the White House. They come just two days after the White House issued a broader set of draft principles for federal agencies' treatment of artificial intelligence, which President Donald Trump's advisers say should avoid "preemptive, burdensome or duplicative rules." The twin moves came during a week when three Cabinet secretaries and Trump's daughter Ivanka were scheduled to make appearances at the CES conference.
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.