White House on Drones: Safety First

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Reporter at PCMag
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This story originally appeared on PCMag

U.S. regulators have been hard at work to make sure drones are deployed safely, and now the White House has a few ideas for how they should be used by the feds.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) today unveiled a plan to safely adopt unmanned aircraft systems in the U.S.


That includes having the National Science Foundation (NSF) spend $35 million in the next five years to figure out how to design, control and apply drones for things like smart disaster response, agricultural monitoring and the study of severe storms.

The Department of the Interior will also use drones to support search and rescue operations and augment manned aircraft procedures. And New York, meanwhile, will spend $5 million to support the state's growing drone industry.

"Since the start of this administration, the US government has been pioneering UAS platforms and applications that are helping save taxpayer money, conserve critical resources and even save lives," the OSTP blog said.

Today's news follows the FAA's publication of "small UAS" rules, which provide national guidelines for the operation of non-recreational unmanned aircraft under 55 pounds.

"With the crucial teamwork of the research and development community and industry, the federal government will continue to work to enable advancements in UAS technology and help realize the positive impact of this technology on the American economy and all of our lives," OSTP said.

"Unmanned aerial systems have the potential to totally revolutionize our economy and way of life," Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), said in a statement. "On an experimental basis, drones are already helping to transport medicine and supplies to underserved and remote communities, supporting first responders in fighting wildfires and mounting search-and rescue efforts, boosting agriculture and environmental protection and much more.

"We need to be looking at how we can more broadly and safely integrate drones into American airspace, both right now and for the future," Warner added.

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