FAA Approves Six States To Test Drones07:09
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The University of North Dakota conducts research and even grants degrees in unmanned aircraft systems. North Dakota is also one of six states that the FAA approved to build test sites for drones. (University of North Dakota)
The University of North Dakota conducts research and even grants degrees in unmanned aircraft systems. North Dakota is also one of six states that the FAA approved to build test sites for drones. (University of North Dakota)

The Federal Aviation Administration says six states will be allowed to develop test sites for drones, as it seeks to safely introduce commercial drones into U.S. airspace.

Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Virginia and Texas will host the research sites.

This is seen as a critical step toward what analysts think will be a huge industry that could create thousands of jobs.

Here & Now's Robin Young speaks with John Valasek, a professor of aerospace engineering at Texas A&M University, about the potential for unmanned aircrafts.

Valasek's team is developing drones for humanitarian relief, crop dusting, infrastructure assessment and environmental monitoring.

Drones have raised issues of privacy, and they have had trouble shaking off their association with military drones. But Valasek is optimistic about the future commercial domestic use of drones.

"I think the drones are going to be here to stay, but I also believe that they need to be introduced carefully and sequentially, along with proper regulations in their use and operations," Valasek said. "And once this is done  -- and it's being worked on right now — they'll find their proper use and fit in nicely with manned aircrafts, with civilian applications, with all of our daily lives."

Guest

  • John Valasek, professor of aerospace engineering at Texas A&M University.

This segment aired on December 31, 2013.

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