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11/20/2017 10:37 AM

NDDOT submits intent to apply for federal UAS/Drone Integration Pilot Program


The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) has submitted its declaration of intent to apply for a federal Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program offered by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).  


Through an application process, the USDOT will choose at least five applications to participate in the three-year program that will give state, local and tribal governments a chance to establish innovation zones for testing complex UAS operations. The federal program’s goal is to integrate unmanned aircraft into local airspace and to accelerate the testing of drone or UAS operations.


“The State of North Dakota is a leader in UAS advancement, and NDDOT has strong connections with private and public stakeholders,” says Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford, who chairs the Northern Plains Unmanned Systems Authority. “The Northern Plains UAS Test Site in Grand Forks – one of only six test sites chosen by the FAA to conduct research on how to safely integrate UAS into the national airspace --- also has fostered collaborative relationships between government and the UAS industry that strongly position North Dakota to participate in this pilot program.”


NDDOT’s partnerships include working with private companies, local and tribal governments as well as law enforcement and emergency services agencies.


“Innovation and integration of the UAS pilot program is key in expanding NDDOT’s future vision for traffic safety, autonomous technology and partnerships,” states NDDOT Director Tom Sorel. “We will work in collaboration with private and public partners to solidify additional avenues of exploration for UAS use throughout the state.”


The federal program will be highly competitive as it is accepting applications from across the United States. The application process will take place in November and December with the pilot program set to be established sometime in 2018.


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