drone flying over field of sunflowers Kinwun/iStock/Thinkstock
VALUABLE TO AGRICULTURE: Unmanned Aerial Systems have already proven their value to agriculture in scouting for crop health and mapping for fertilizer or chemical application. The Kansas Department of Transportation is one of 10 entitites chosen to participate in a new pilot program on UAS integration.

Kansas picked for unmanned aircraft integration pilot program

Participants in drone pilot program will pave way for drone integration into national airspace system.

The Kansas Department of Transportation is one of ten entities that have been chosen as participants in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program.

The federal program is an initiative that is aimed at shaping the future of drone use in America. The participants chosen for the project were announced May 10 by U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

"We are looking forward to helping today’s winners unlock the enormous potential of drone operations, which will create new services and jobs in their local communities," Chao said.

Drone integration testing in Kansas will focus on search and rescue of stranded motorists, explore infrastructure inspection, and remote safety assessment applications for transportation nationwide.

"We are looking forward to leading the way in Unmanned Aircraft Systems going forward and we are very happy to be a part of this program," said Gov. Jeff Colyer. "UAS technology has the potential to do so many remarkable things and as the air capital of the world we feel it’s particularly appropriate for Kansas to be a part of this aviation of the future."

"Kansas is and always has been a leader in aviation," said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. "I look forward to seeing the many innovative ways KDOT, along with our state universities, will use unmanned aircraft technologies to help a variety of industries including agriculture."

The state of Kansas was the first state to name a director for Unmanned Aircraft Systems and has already deployed an unmanned traffic management system.

Lt. Governor Tracey Mann, who was on hand at the Kansas announcement in Benton, notes the successful use of UAS technology in agriculture, something very important to Kansans.

The UAS Integration Pilot Program is an opportunity for state, local, and tribal governments to partner with private sector entities, such as UAS operators or manufacturers, to accelerate safe UAS integration.

The program is expected to foster a meaningful dialogue on the balance between local and national interests related to UAS integration, and provide actionable information to the U.S. Department of Transportation regarding the expanded and universal integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.

Additional participants in the program are the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the city of San Diego, Calif., Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority, Herndon, Va., Lee County Mosquito Control District, Fort Myers, Fla., Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, Memphis, Tenn., North Carolina Department of Transportation, Raleigh, N.C., North Dakota Department of Transportation, Bismarck, N.D., the city of Reno, Nev., and University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska.

More information related to the UAS Integration Pilot Program can be found online.

Source: Kansas Department of Transportation

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