In May 2018, the Federal Aviation Administration selected the N.C. Department of Transportation as one of 10 participants in its Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program, which involves implementing drone programs to integrate emerging technology into current state and federal regulations.
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, and gather data on the efficiency of drone programs.
The program has two main goals:
- To foster a meaningful dialogue on the balance of local and national interests related to unmanned aircraft systems.
- To provide useful data to the U.S. Department of Transportation for expanding and implementing unmanned aircraft systems into the National Airspace System.
In North Carolina the program is focused primarily on using drones to deliver life-saving medical supplies, run food delivery services, and to conduct bridge and infrastructure inspections, especially after natural disasters.
NCDOT and its partners UPS, Matternet and WakeMed launched the country’s first ever commercial drone delivery service in March 2019. Efforts are underway to launch similar medical delivery services in other parts of the state, as well as set up a food delivery service in the Town of Holly Springs in Wake County.
After the outbreak of COVID-19, efforts were refocused
on using drones to assist in the fight against the disease. This included medical supply delivery to relieve stress on supply chains and food delivery to make it easier for people to abide by stay-at-home orders.
For more information about the UAS Integration Pilot Program, check our news updates and event notifications pages.