US set to announce participants in new slate of drone tests
(Reuters) – Major technology and aerospace companies including Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Intel Corp (INTC.O), Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) and Airbus SE (AIR.PA) are vying to take part in a new slate of drone tests the United States is set to announce on Wednesday, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The wide interest in the U.S. initiative, launched by President Donald Trump last year, underscores the desire of a broad range of companies to have a say in how the fledgling industry is regulated and ultimately win authority to operate drones for everything from package delivery to crop inspection.
The pilot program will allow a much larger range of tests than are generally permitted by federal aviation regulators, including flying drones at night, over people and beyond an operator’s line of sight.
Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, who is up for re-election in November, said in a press release the city of Reno was named one of the winners. The city is partnered with Nevada-based Flirtey, a company that has worked on delivering defibrillators by drone, as well as pizza for Domino’s.
At least 200 companies spanning 149 applications are vying to be part of the program, a U.S. official said. Many major U.S. companies are part of the winning submissions.
Winners include projects focused on package delivery, environmental monitoring, precision agriculture, pipeline oversight and integrating drones near airports, the U.S. official said.
Companies such as Boeing Co (BA.N) and Ford Motor Co (F.N) have also expressed interest in the program, sources said, though it was unclear whether they had joined applications and what they would be testing.
Amazon declined to comment. Airbus, Intel and Qualcomm confirmed they on one or more applications, with Airbus noting it is interested in topics like risk analysis for airspace management. Qualcomm hopes to test network connectivity along with partners Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc.