From [CBS] Americans could see a lot more drones flying around their communities as the result of a Trump administration test program to increase government and commercial use of the unmanned aircraft.
President Trump gave the go-ahead Wednesday, signing a directive intended to increase the number and complexity of drone flights.
The presidential memo would allow exemptions from current safety rules so communities could move ahead with testing of drone operations.
States, communities and tribes selected to participate would devise their own trial programs in partnership with government and industry drone users. The administration anticipates approving at least five applications, but there is no limit on the number of communities that can join.
The Federal Aviation Administration would review each program. The agency would grant waivers, if necessary, to rules that now restrict drone operations. Examples include prohibitions on flights over people, nighttime flights and flights beyond the line of sight of the drone operator.
Among the things that could be tested are package deliveries; the reliability and security of data links between pilot and aircraft; and technology to prevent collisions between drones and other aircraft and to detect and counter drones flying in restricted areas.
Drone-makers and businesses that want to fly drones have pushed for looser restrictions. Mr. Trump discussed the issue with industry leaders at a White House meeting in June.
In the past two years, the FAA has registered over 1 million drones. The majority of them belong to hobbyists. There are now more registered drones than registered manned aircraft in the U.S.
Safety restrictions on drone flights have limited drone use, and U.S. technology companies seeking to test and deploy commercial drones have often done so overseas. For example, Google's Project Wing is testing drones in Australia, and Amazon is testing drone deliveries in the United Kingdom.
"In order to maintain American leadership in this emerging industry here at home, our country needs a regulatory framework that encourages innovation while ensuring airspace safety," Michael Kratsios of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy told reporters in a conference call. [MORE]