After what looked to be a sweeping, swift, and crushing defeat for the very idea of delivery drones in the US, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has announced a new initiative that not only constitutes a complete turnabout on the previous legislature, but actually advocates for unmanned aircraft. Saying that the unmanned flight industry looks to be headed toward generating $25 billion for the country's economy by 2025, an announcement today officially gave the green light for the use of unmanned drones, so long as the right conditions are met, and abolishes the previous line-of-sight laws. Naturally, the first tech firm to take a knife to the pie would be Alphabet, who announced that they plan to begin US testing soon.
As with any automated technology, safety measures will be heavy-handed until the tech is proven completely reliable and safe. On that note, the Federal Aviation Administration has approved six different test sites where Google's Project Wing mechs have the legal right to strut their stuff sans human input. The White House's public release on the matter specifically addresses Project Wing, saying that data gathering ventures of that sort are exactly what will be necessary to develop the kind of autonomous guidance system that will support what Amazon and Alphabet are looking to unleash; that is, tons of drones floating overhead, each headed to their own destination with their own cargo, in a crowded cityscape or wide stretch of countryside.
The six testing grounds are not named for the time being, but it's likely that they will consist of a mix of live places and set-aside, specially made testing areas built with challenges the drones may face in real world usage in mind. The release does say that unmanned flight out of the line of sight of a pilot is a goal to be worked toward, meaning that progress will take time, and you likely won't be greeting a drone to grab your new pair of shoes at your door within the next year or two. Still, the possibilities on offer here are very exciting, especially when combined with the tech world's current fascination with machine learning and neural networking.