Published: Fri, May 11, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Drew Collins

USA drone program rejects Amazon and China's DJI, taps Apple instead

USA drone program rejects Amazon and China's DJI, taps Apple instead

The U.S. Department of Transportation picked the airport authority and nine other organizations for its Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program.

While Google Maps might still be the de facto map app that comes to mind for many, Apple has been making great strides to improve its own offerings. Including flying drones at night and beyond an operator's line of vision in the United States.

"We're grateful to the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration for providing us with the opportunity to conduct our most advanced testing to date on USA soil", said James Ryan Burgess, co-lead of Project Wing, which will be testing in Virginia.

Meanwhile, drone startups and some better-known companies have found a foothold in their partnerships with the winning applicants.

The Trump administration, the DOT and the FAA expect the drone industry will create up to 100,000 jobs for citizens, and claim the potential economic benefit of UAVs to the USA could equal up to $82 billion "in less than a decade".

Uber is working with San Diego, which wants to create drone landing stations and ports, according to a fact sheet released by DOT. This could be a precursor to the company's recently announced plan to develop flying taxis. Virginia Tech said that it would explore emergency management, package delivery and infrastructure inspection by drone, partnering with Alphabet's Project Wing, AT&T, Intel, Airbus and Dominion Energy. It will use drones to deliver small aircraft parts on a defined path in the north ramp area at the hub. Studies have shown that drone response times are 16 minutes faster than ambulances, giving patients higher odds of survival.

The airport authority will partner with the City of Memphis, city police and fire departments, Agricenter International, the University of Memphis, the Tennessee Department of Transportation Division of Aeronautics, FedEx, GE subsidiaries AirXOS and Avitas, Intel, Flirtey, 901Drones, Express Drone Parts and ForeverReady Productions.

Drone tracking service AirMap, which acts as an air traffic controller for the drone industry, is a partner in six of the winning programs. Operations will include precision agriculture, environmental protection, infrastructure protection, and package delivery for medical needs within Shelby Farms. Many big names such as Amazon has resorted to carrying out their drone testing procedures in the UK.

The company has been expanding its Prime Air delivery service over the last two years, but that wasn't enough to satisfy the feds.

"While it's unfortunate the applications we were involved with were not selected, we support the administration's efforts to create a pilot program aimed at keeping America at the forefront of aviation and drone innovation", Brian Huseman, Amazon's vice president of public policy, said in a statement. We are supportive of testing and research in the FAA Unmanned Aircraft System pilot program.

The online retail giant also patented a delivery drone that responds to human voices and movements, including pointing, waving arms and screaming.

However, Amazon has been frozen out amid its ongoing feud with President Donald Trump. Neither assertion is true. Data will be used by FAA to help expand drone flights and to also test how to balance national versus local government interests in the emerging industry.

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