warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Six States Chosen For Commercial Drone Testing

Alex Gold |
December 30, 2013 | 3:39 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

(Revedavion.com / Flickr)
(Revedavion.com / Flickr)

A fierce national competition for hosting commercial drone testing has concluded, leaving at least ten states at the helm of a budding industry. In these 10 states, the Federal Aviation Administration approved six institutions for commercial "unmanned aerial system" testing, officials announced.

The institutions will conduct studies to set safety standards for training and certifying ground pilots, dealing with engine failures, ensuring safe flight after losing radio connection to ground control, and avoiding traditional collisions.

Research will continue through February, 2017, although Congress is expected to integrate the aircrafts into airspace gradually, as early as 2015.

Out of 25 participants, the six winners include the University of Alaska, State of Nevada, New York's Griffiss International Airport, North Dakota Department of Commerce, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi, and Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech will also be working closely with Rutgers University to launch test flights in New Jersey.

Diversity of geography, climate, and air density were factors in choosing the testing facilities, said the Michael P. Huerta, the administrator of the FAA.

The studies will aid in the development of commercial standards for system safety and data gathering, aircraft certification, command and control link issues, control station and layout certification, ground and airborne sense and avoidance, and environmental impacts.

While commercial drones will come in all shapes and sizes, these studies seek to establish standards of control and communication using three-dimensional GPS systems, radio to ground control, and computers with integrated imaging systems.

Associations of drones with war and spy games leave the public wary over privacy issues, and fearful of government surveillance. Some cities, including Seattle, have even begun to ban drones.

Last year, Congress passed a law paving the way for testing and development of UAS.

Read the full story at the New York Times.


Reach Staff Reporter Alex Gold here, or follow him on Twitter.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.