According to a memorandum released by the White House, President Trump will put a new program in place that could accelerate and increase the number of drone tests across the United States. The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot program, as it’s called, will allow US cities and states to partner with tech companies to draw up at least five trial programs around the country over the next three years. Each program will have to be reviewed by the Federal Aviation Administration.
These trial programs could be used to test everything from delivering goods to night flights to flying drones beyond a pilot’s line of sight to sense-and-avoidance technologies and more, according to the Department of Transportation. In return, the government will have access to the data created by these trials, which it will use in conjunction with NASA to further develop an air traffic control system for drones.
Until now, the US government has taken a careful approach to drone operation. Companies and individuals are currently able to fly drones for commercial purposes in the US, but are subject to heavy restrictions. Pilots are required to obtain a certification, are only allowed to fly during the daytime, and must keep the drone within line of sight. They’re also supposed to keep the drones at or under 400 feet, and aren’t allowed to fly over crowds.