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Though unmanned aerial vehicles have proliferated in recent years, the US federal government still tightly controls their use. For example, drones must stay within a pilot’s sight and remain below below a certain altitude. The federal government will give a few select areas around the country a chance to experiment with new uses for drones. Gov. Susana Martinez wants New Mexico to be one of them.
Martinez recently spoke in Washington, D.C., there she presented a new program to President Donald Trump’s administration that will allow state, local and tribal governments to expand the use of drones. The new program would loosen those restrictions in select cases. The U.S. Department of Transportation will take applications from all governing levels interested in creating zones to test more complex uses of unmanned aerial systems, such as package delivery or responding to disasters.
According to govtech.com’s report, the government will create at least five of these zones, collect data on drone use in those areas and help integrate unmanned aerial systems into air traffic.
“These partnerships will help us innovate across the board in agriculture, emergency management as well as transportation and just about any field possible,” Martinez told a crowd at the department’s headquarters, while speaking about the program.
A spokesman for the governor did not specify which organizations or governments around the state might apply for the program. New Mexico State University already oversees a large testing area for drones that stretches across the southwest corner of the state.
Drones have also posed particular challenges in New Mexico, unmanned aerial vehicles have frustrated wildland firefighters calling in planes to douse forest fires, for example. Some in the industry say the new program will help develop new policies for broadening the use of drones in everyday life. The visit to Washington was the governor’s latest step in getting closer to the Trump administration after clashing with the president during his election campaign.