White House promotes its delivery drone testing

The US White House has been talking up the government’s plans to work with delivery companies on testing drone delivery systems. Where the US is being far more conservative than the UK, the White House has been keen to promote its steps forward.

In a statement earlier this week the White House said that its Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is “announcing new steps, sustained by public and private support, to promote the safe integration and innovative adoption of unmanned aircraft systems across the United States”.

The OSTP said that the announcements build on the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s  “Small UAS” rule , which was published in June to provide national guidelines for the operation of non-recreational unmanned aircraft under 55lbs.

Some of the more interesting points from the White House include:

– the announcement of a $5m down-payment by the state of New York to support the growth of the emerging unmanned aircraft systems industry across New York;

– and details of how $35m in research funding by the National Science Foundation (NSF) will be used over the next five years to “accelerate the understanding of how to intelligently and effectively design, control, and apply UAS to beneficial applications”.

The US government is working with Google subsidiary Alphabet. The White House statement continued, “will conduct an operational research study at one of the six FAA UAS Test Sites to gain full operational experience of its delivery service in a safe testing environment”.

The White House statement added: “Data gathered will be shared with government partners to help regulators answer critical safety and human factors questions for UAV cargo delivery operations.

“Project Wing is planning for the testing to include operations with external cargo loads and to build towards beyond line of sight (BLOS) capabilities.

“The company will also begin to develop and deploy an open-interface, airspace management solution for safe low-altitude small UAS (sUAS) operations using existing low cost, scalable communication and information technologies. The work, which will focus on encouraging good citizenship in operation and collaboration between and across industry and government, will help ensure safe integration of sUAS in the layer of airspace under 400 feet.”