Drone Test Sites In The United States Start Testing Unmanned Drones In America’s Skies

The drone test sites chosen by the FAA late last year are just now starting to launch and the unmanned drones will be testing various concepts in hopes of launching drones into the skies over America by 2015.

In a related report by The Inquisitr, a drone in Yellowstone national park crash landed into Grand Prismatic Spring. Unmanned drones in the U.S. have barely missed crashing into passenger planes in at least 10 separate instances according to our previous reports.

The goal for the drone test sites is to test and develop the technology to the point that unmanned drones may fly safely with commercial airliners. But the regulatory program has fallen behind schedule by a good year and these drone test sites have just started launching in recent weeks.

According to USA Today, there were six teams chosen out of the 25 applicants for the drone test sites:

  • The University of Alaska plans to work on state monitoring, navigation and safety standards.
  • The state of Nevada plans to study standards for operators and certification requirements in addition to how air-traffic control procedures will evolve to handle drones.
  • New York’s Griffiss International Airport near Utica plans to research how drones and passenger aircraft will sense and avoid each other in order to prevent collisions. Rome in New York will be “evaluating methods for scouting agricultural fields using different types of sensors, research that is expected to enhance current ways of monitoring crops.” These tests will be conducted by Canada’s PrecisionHawk Lancaster Platform drone, an unmanned drone weighing about three pounds.
  • North Dakota Department of Commerce plans to develop airworthiness data and validate the reliability of links between pilots and unmanned aircraft.
  • Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi plans to develop safety systems for drones.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University plans to test failure modes and technical risks for drones in order to ensure they land safely if they lose their connection with a pilot.

The FAA said today that only five out of six drone test sites have started operations.

Earlier this week, the University of Maryland announced it was going to create a new drone test site to study how “drones may coexist with jets, helicopters and other air traffic in U.S. airspace.” Maryland lost the bid to become one of the federal drone test sites, but the state governments of Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey all plan on collaborating together on their own separate research program.

Vice Adm. David Dunaway, commander of Naval Air Systems Command at Pax River, says that sharing resources for the drone test sites will help them improve the quality of the research:

“Our existing relationship with the University of Maryland serves as the foundation of this new test site. The sharing of human capital and expertise from the university, government, and industry will be a conduit for technology transfer, and the overall betterment of national security.”

On a national scale, it’s expected that unmanned drone flights will generate 100,000 jobs and could generate as much as $82 billion according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

What do you think about the plans for drone test sites? Should the United States allow unmanned drones to fly freely just like commercial flights?