On Wednesday, May 9, 2018, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) applauded the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) selection of Virginia to participate in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP).
“I have been happy to work closely with Virginia Tech and the MAAP for several years now in promoting the safe use and development of drones in Virginia, which has included the first package delivery by drone in the country. Today’s award is recognition that this team has assembled some of the strongest expertise in the nation, and has put forward a proposal that will prove critical to shared efforts to safely integrate drones into our communities and airspace,” said Sen. Warner. “To reap the full benefits of all this technology has to offer, we need to be leaders – not laggards – in safely integrating it into our daily lives. Today’s announcement is an important step in again putting the U.S. in the lead, and our work in getting Virginia selected means that Virginia will be at the forefront of this revolution.”
DOT’s UAS Integration Pilot Program is an opportunity for state, local, and tribal governments to partner with private sector entities, such as UAS operators or manufacturers, to accelerate safe UAS integration. Virginia’s application was a coordinated effort spearheaded by Virginia’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority (IEIA) with cooperation from the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership (MAAP).
Sen. Warner has been a strong supporter of research and investment in unmanned systems, including driverless cars, drones, and unmanned submersibles. He has introduced bipartisan legislation designed to advance the development of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and build on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) efforts to safely integrate them into the National Airspace System. Virginia is home to one of six FAA-approved sites across the country where researchers are testing the safest and most effective ways to incorporate UAS into the existing airspace. In 2016, the UAS test site’s partnership with Google’s parent company Alphabet X’s Project Wing tested its first burrito drone delivery.