drone over composite image

The workshop showcased how government agencies have become a proving ground for a wide array of new drone concepts and technologies.

The workshop, hosted by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, outlined some interesting use cases for drone technology that the Federal government is leading the way on, as well as an aggressive agenda for boosting the profile of drones in the U.S. economy. Here are 13 interesting facts that came out of
the workshop.

#3 To be able to safely operate multiple drones at once is going to become a critical factor for commercialization. Potential uses for multiple drones include search-and-rescue operations, delivery, or inspections of large structures, such as bridges. Current tests have successfully managed 100 drones through a single operator console. Work is underway to be able to scale that to potentially 1,000 or more drones, according to Intel Corp. CEO Bryan Krzanich. [Krzanich recently agreed to head the new FAA advisory committee.]

#4 There remain a number of significant regulatory challenges to integrating drones into the national airspace system, including privacy, spectrum usage, safety, and scalability. “We are literally at the edge” of developing drones that operators cannot run into other objects, Krzanich said.

#6 Drones have become a critical tool for the Department of Interior, which manages 500 million acres of land in the U.S. and 1.7 billion acres on the outer continental shelf. Drones are contributing to Interior’s various missions of fire suppression, mine inspections, oil spill response, and critical
infrastructure monitoring.

#7 The future of unmanned systems at Interior includes a mix of in-house and contractor operated UAVs, a cloud strategy for data processing, and a 50 percent increase in DOI aviation users. By FY 2019, DOI will have in place procedures for rapid data processing of UAV-acquired data using the cloud. This will dramatically reduce the time needed to process imagery at a local office.

#13 The United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General plans to publish new findings and analysis on the public’s rapidly evolving opinion of drone delivery as a potential future logistics technology.

This is an interesting slant – the source is “dedicated to improving the outcomes of Government IT.” As noted elsewhere, this is a very ambitious initiative.

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