North Carolina’s motto is “First in Flight” and the Tarheel state wants to build on that tradition when it comes to drones.
The N.C. Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation recently applied for the FAA’s drone integration pilot program. The three-year Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) IPP tests small drone operations in partnership with state, local and tribal governments. “The goal is to generate data and knowledge for future UAS policymaking, specifically to learn about conducting complex unmanned operations outside of the current regulatory structure.”
NCDOT will partner with Matternet and Zipline to create medical distribution centers to deliver much-needed supplies via drone during emergencies.
We’re really excited that drone technology may allow doctors and hospitals to save more lives in North Carolina soon,” said N.C. Director of Aviation Bobby Walston. “We’ve been researching and investing in drone technology for years at NCDOT. This proposal represents the next big step for us as we remain a national leader in the UAS field.”
In addition, NCDOT currently partners with UTM providers such as AirMap and North Carolina-based PrecisionHawk to innovate drone traffic management solutions.
According to U.S. transportation department Secretary Elaine Chao the FAA integration program has generated “outstanding results.”
“More than 150 completed applications have been received and they involve over 40 states, 75 local government entities, several tribal entities, more than 15 colleges and universities and 6 airport authorities,” she said.
According to the FAA: “The results from the Program will help to inform the development of future enabling regulations that will expand safe UAS operations and help to transition many of the new and novel operational concepts that we manage today by exception into routine, commonplace aspects of our everyday lives.”
For NCDOT, the new program marks steady progress towards the goal of making the state drone-friendly. In April, the agency created a set of best practices for drone use in disaster analysis, search-and-rescue and other government responses. The final report was released after NCDOT’s Division of Aviation held a workshop with emergency management officials. In September, NCDOT released a feasibility study last week with a plan to use drones to create 3D models of auto crash scenes.