President Donald Trump signed a memo Wednesday establishing a pilot program aiming to accelerate the adoption of unmanned aircraft systems.
The UAS Integration Pilot Program will give state and local governments the go-ahead to allow drone operations in their airspace in ways that are currently restricted by the Federal Aviation Administration. That includes allowing "flights beyond visual line of sight, flights at night, and flights over people," according to a blog post from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
"This program will open the skies for activities such as delivery of life-saving medicines and commercial packages, inspections of critical infrastructure, support for emergency management operations, and crop surveys for precision agriculture applications," the White House said.
The FAA will begin accepting proposals for pilot projects within the next 90 days.
"American aviation is on the verge of an unmanned revolution," the White House said, adding that drones could add "tens of billions of dollars" to the economy, create "tens of thousands" of new jobs, and improve quality of life.
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"But the United States' antiquated regulatory system for aviation has been too slow to keep up with the pace of the technology," the administration added. "Overly burdensome restrictions on commercial drone use have limited the forecasted benefits of these systems to our society."
As a result, companies are moving their drone programs overseas, where drone testing and deployment is less restricted.
This new program will "encourage innovation while maintaining the safety of our airspace," Deputy US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios said in a statement.
Amazon and a number of other companies like UPS and 7-Eleven have been experimenting with drone deliveries. Amazon in March conducted the first public test of its Prime Air system, which that company says could allow for 30-minute package deliveries.
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