Commercial drone
A commercial drone with a camera in flight. Photo credit: Alexander Glinz via Wikimedia Commons

The city of San Diego announced completion Friday of the first half of a pilot program on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in national airspace.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation selected San Diego last year as one of 10 cities, universities and agencies in the Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program.

Since being selected in May 2018, the city has completed nearly 650 flights with 17 different types of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly called drones. The flights took place in both military and controlled airspace.

The FAA will use data from the program to develop new regulations on low-altitude drone use. The FAA approved drones for uses such as delivering packages, infrastructure inspection and acting as first responders.

Tiffany Vinson, the city’s pilot program manager, said San Diego’s involvement allows the city “to leverage technology” to improve quality of life for residents.

According to city surveys and public feedback, a majority of residents think drones are a positive. In recent months, the city released a drone operating guide to answer some commonly asked questions during its outreach.

The city encouraged residents to access the guide as well as the city’s online feedback form for drone use.

 – City News Service