Under a new federal initiative, Alaska will help pioneer expanded uses for drones, including remote delivery of medical devices and long-distance surveillance of the trans-Alaska pipeline.
The Department of Transportation announced on Wednesday it chose the University of Alaska Fairbanks to be part of a test program to advance efforts to fully integrate drones into the nation’s airspace.
“This is huge,” said Cathy Cahill, director of the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration at the university
.Nine other organizations were selected, out of nearly nearly 150 applicants nationwide, to participate in the initiative, called the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program.
The university even beat out Amazon to win a spot, Cahill said Friday.
The university will test drones to advance night operations, flights beyond the operator’s line of sight, and flights over large crowds at low elevations in cities. Alaska is a perfect testing ground, with its hard-to-access areas and long winter darkness, Cahill said.
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