Now that the U.S. government has given commercial drone flights its stamp of approval, there are many bugs that need to be worked out. The most pressing concern rules about line-of-sight piloting. If you want to successfully deliver products, you can’t be forced to watch your drone as it drops each parcel. So Google (now Alphabet) and Amazon among others, are testing their machines and hoping to gain better legal footing in order to send automated drones out into the neighborhood to deliver products.
The Guardian reports that Google’s “Project Wing” has gained access to one of the Federal Aviation Authority areas to test its drones. The Guardian reports:
The announcement was made alongside a pledge from the US National Science Foundation to spend $35m (£26m) over the next five years on drone research, and comes a month after the US government green-lit commercial drone flights, but with restrictions around line-of-sight control that made automated drone delivery infeasible.
The White House said: “Project Wing is planning for the testing to include operations with external cargo loads and to build towards beyond line of sight capabilities. The company will also begin to develop and deploy an open-interface, airspace management solution for safe low-altitude small UAS operations using existing low cost, scalable communication and information technologies.
“Data gathered will be shared with government partners to help regulators answer critical safety and human factors questions for UAV cargo delivery operations.”
The tests will help shape US legislation around the types of automated flying systems that Amazon and Alphabet hope to use to delivery goods and services via air, and establish requirements for unmanned pilot licences.