The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will now fund double the number of unmanned aircraft system (UAS or drone) integration projects as it previously has due to a strong response from organizations and companies wishing to participate. The DOT’s UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP) was set to launch five projects in the initial round, but the DOT received so many applications for the program that the DOT has decided to raise the number of projects to 10.
The DOT will fund these projects as part of the IPP. The IPP was launched by the Trump administration with hopes of boosting and accelerating the integration of UAS into the national airspace. The goal of the IPP is to support cooperation and participation from stakeholders across the UAS industry, including state and local governments, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and security agencies. The DOT’s main concern (and hope for this project) is to discuss state and local laws restricting the operation of UAS and the potential for conflict with the FAA’s ability to regulate the industry—the hope is to achieve a balance.
The DOT’s selections for inclusion in the IPP will be announced at some point this month as the deadline for lead applicants to enter into memoranda of agreement with the FAA is May 7.