U.S. DOT chooses San Diego for experimental commercial drone program

The U.S. Department of Transportation has reportedly announced that the Californian city of San Diego has been chosen from myriad applicants to take part in its experimental commercial drone program. As per sources, this program, titled ‘Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program’ will lay the foundation of autonomous drone activities including medical supply support, enhanced border security, and food and package delivery and is expected up the ante of the regional commercial drone market.

Earlier this year, San Diego, in cooperation with the city’s Regional Economic Development Corporation and the city of Chula Vista, had applied for this program in order to enable drone testing in real-world scenarios. The program has also been launched as a support platform for the Federal Aviation Administration to help them develop rules that surround the regional commercial drone industry.

San Diego’s winning proposal is inclusive of research & business partners such as Qualcomm, Uber, and UCSD that are already in the process of developing drone-related systems for commercial purposes, as well as real-world applications put forth by the city government body. As per Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s CEO, the company will be working on food delivery drones – one of the most sought-after application arenas of commercial drone market.

The director of economic development, San Diego, Erik Caldwell, is of the view that currently, the city has already earned the title of being a potential hotbed for autonomous vehicle programs. Through the ‘Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program’, he continues, San Diegans will get the opportunity to be among the debutants in the U.S. to experience drone-enabled services such as food delivery from Uber within minutes.

The proposal also includes other trial programs that will help enhance border surveillance and quicken the pace of hospital blood tests.

Incidentally, San Diego fell among the 10 winning agencies that were chosen from a selection of 149 state and city participants. Other cities that were chosen for this experimental commercial drone program fell under the jurisdiction of Virginia, North Dakota, and Kansas.