U.S. government warms up to drone delivery

If you’d like a drone to bring you a burrito at 2 a.m., the Trump administration is taking a step toward making that possible.

It’s also making it easier for local governments to have a say in whether deliveries should even be allowed.

The White House announced Wednesday it’s launching a three-year pilot program to create “innovation zones” for test drones around the country. The move aims to spur the development of the drone industry in the United States.

Many drone companies have moved their operations overseas amid complaints that U.S. regulators are too slow to allow the new technology.

In the pilot program, state, local and governments will partner with drone companies to evaluate operating at night, taking flights over people, and flying outside a pilot’s line of sight. Package delivery is a possible service under consideration.

The U.S. Department of Transportation will field applications for the program and grant at least five partnerships. This means, in theory, Google and the city of Detroit could be inspired to team up to offer burrito deliveries.

The program is a step toward resolving who is in charge of what drones do. The federal government has long governed the skies rather than state and local leaders.

The approach works as planes fly thousands of feet above the ground, so they have little impact on matters below. But small drones complicate things — they can fly directly above homes, sidewalks, and public events. Many state and local governments have pushed for a say in how drones are regulated.

“This is a clear recognition that drones are different than manned aircraft and the regulatory structure needs to reflect that,” Gregory McNeal, a co-founder of the drone startup AirMap and law professor at Pepperdine University, told CNN Tech.

Read more of this CNN Tech article by Matt McFarland by clicking here.