The Federal Aviation Administration announced that the first outdoor drone testing site is ready to go. Through research, the FAA hopes to discover how unmanned aircrafts can be implemented in United States airspace.

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Read part of the press release below:

The FAA today granted the North Dakota Department of Commerce team a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to begin using a Draganflyer X4ES small UAS at itsNorthern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site. The COA is effective for two years. The team plans to begin flight operations during the week of May 5.

“North Dakota has really taken the lead in supporting the growing unmanned aircraft industry,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We look forward to the contributions they and the other test sites will make toward our efforts to ensure the safe and efficient integration of UAS into our nation’s skies.”

Fox News’ John Roberts gave viewers an exclusive look at one of the six test sites. This one is at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi where researchers are figuring out how drones can be safely integrated into the already crowded U.S. airspace.

Some of the issues they’re working out include: how to keep drones away from aircraft and objects, how to address privacy concerns, and the possibility of the GPS systems being hacked.

As for the uses of drones, the first commercial use is likely to be crop surveys, followed by checking oil and gas pipelines and checking electrical transmissions. Companies like Amazon, Domino’s Pizza and DHL are exploring ways in which drones can be used to make deliveries.

While those applications may be a long way off, researcher Ahmed Mahdy, Ph.D., envisions a world where drones will be a part of our everyday life.

“Every household will have a drone, a pet drone, that can help you as an assistant, go do chores for you,” he said.

Ultimately, Roberts reported, the integration of drones into U.S. airspace may be money-driven. Texas A&M researchers estimate that it’ll be an $8 billion dollar industry in Texas alone, and $80 billion across the country. 

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