Choctaw Nation selected for drone test program - KTEN.com - Texoma news, weather and sports

Choctaw Nation selected for drone test program

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The Choctaw Nation will be part of a drone test program. (NBC News) The Choctaw Nation will be part of a drone test program. (NBC News)

By JAMES MacPHERSON
Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- The Choctaw Nation is among 10 locations identified by federal transportation officials Wednesday which will take part in a test program aimed at increasing government and commercial use of unmanned aircraft.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the winners for the three-year drone program where states, local communities and tribes can devise their own trials.

The Choctaw Nation said its proposal "focuses on agricultural, public safety and infrastructure inspections."  The tribe is working with CNN and the Green Valley Farms Living Laboratory to mount "an aggressive 90-day schedule" for data-gathering operations that are expected to have wide applications.

Other sites are located in California, Nevada, North Dakota, North Carolina, Kansas, Alaska, Virginia, Tennessee and Florida. Transportation officials say 149 applications were received.

President Donald Trump signed a directive last year to establish the "innovation zones" that allow exemptions to some drone regulations, such as flying over people, nighttime flights and flights where the aircraft can't be seen by the operator.

The unmanned aircraft industry has pushed for relaxed restrictions. Officials say current regulations have limited drone use, forcing companies to test overseas.

KTEN.com editor Walt Zwirko contributed to this report.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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