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Science & Technology

FAA Selects Texas A&M Corpus Christi As One Of Six Drone Testing Sites In U.S.

Hernán Rozemberg
U.S. Border Patrol drone in Corpus Christi.

As the federal government prepares for commercial use of unmanned aircraft, it has chosen six sites in the U.S. for drone safety testing.

Each of the six sites chosen will test different aspects of drones and drone use. Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi plans to develop safety systems for the unmanned aircraft. 

Other sites chosen by the Federal Aviation Administration include: The University of Alaska, which plans to work on state monitoring, navigation and safety standards; the State of Nevada, which will study drones’ integration into air-traffic control procedures; Griffiss International Airport in New York State, which will research how drones and passenger aircraft will avoid collisions; the North Dakota Department of Commerce, which plans to develop airworthiness data; and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, which plans to test failure modes and technical risks for drones to ensure they land safely.

Officials say each of the sites stands to realize important job creation from the drone testing. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, projected the industry will create 100,000 jobs and generate $82 billion in economic activity in the decade after the aircraft are allowed in general airspace.

Drones in the past have been used mainly by the military, but future users of drones include government entities, businesses, and farmers.

As for reputed plans for retailers to use drones for delivering gifts and other packages, the FAA is working to develop operational guidelines for commercial use by the end of 2015 but concedes it could take longer.