Alphabet can start testing its delivery drones in the U.S., according to a statement released Tuesday by the White House.
In an effort to strengthen the drone industry, the White House announced that the U.S. National Science Foundation will spend $35 million on unmanned flight research over the next five years to understand how to design and control unmanned aircraft. The Department of Interior is also considering expanding its use of drones, the statement said.
Alphabet’s Project Wing will be tested at one of the six Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) test sites in the U.S. However, Alphabet won’t be allowed to test the kind of long distance flying it hoped to give a shot based on the current regulations. The current guidelines give room for beyond line of sight capabilities provided the users can prove that the operations were safe.
Project Wing, a part of Alphabet-owned X and founded by Google, plans on attaching radio transponders to its drones that will transmit its location details to other aircraft and to controllers. If all drones were equipped with such transponders, it would prevent collisions, Project Wing’s head Dave Vos reportedly said.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said that drones could be used in place of humans when dangerous activities that put human lives at risk are involved. “Just last week, two people lost their lives in two different accidents involving crop dusters, exactly the type of job that a small unmanned aircraft can do with far less risk to people and to property on the ground,” he said.
Amazon announced on July 26 that it was partnering up with the British government, which allows the online retailer to test its delivery drones for its Prime Air project in the U.K. Through this partnership, Amazon can test beyond line of sight operations in rural and suburban areas, test its drone’s sensors to make sure it can identify and avoid obstacles and conduct experiments on the usage of multiple autonomous drones handled by a single operator.