The Federal Aviation Administration, responding to pleas from developers of unmanned civilian drones for areas in which they can test their craft, has designated a number of zones around the country for such uses, including Tillamook County.
The testing will be led by the University of Alaska and will include help from Oregon State University. According to OSU, three areas in Oregon will be used for the testing of the unmanned aircraft. They are the Warm Springs Reservation, the ocean off the coast of Tillamook and near Pendleton.
The designated air space over Tillamook County and Eastern Oregon will put OSU and the state of Oregon on the map to help mold the future of unmanned aerial systems, according to Rick Spinrad, vice president for research at OSU. Spinrad said it will give OSU faculty and engineering students a strategic opportunity in helping to research and manufacture these civilian-use aircraft for the many purposes envisioned for them.
The Oregon sites will be grouped together in what will be called the Pan-Pacific Test Site, which will also include sites in Alaska and Hawaii, according to OSU.
The five other test-site operators were chosen in Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia.
OSU says the Pan-Pacific Test Sites will provide varied terrain in which testing can be conducted, including mountains, rivers, volcanoes and tropical islands.
The FAA says these drones are not for military uses but rather for enhancing agriculture production, assessing ocean and river conditions for salmon and other fisheries, targeting cleanup of hazardous spills, wildlife surveys and a long list of other important missions.
The FAA says concerns of evasion of privacy is high on the list for enforcement and they’ve laid out a privacy protection program that should ensure that the issue is clearly addressed and accountable.
Here’s more on the story from The Oregonian. Click here.
A national perspective on the drone development programs are in this article, also in the Oregonian. Click here.