US loosens regulations for drone-testing programmes

Businesses are gaining more freedom to experiment with drones in the US after the government created 10 light-touch regulatory zones for companies to test aerial services ranging from parcel delivery to pipeline inspections.

The Department of Transportation said on Wednesday it had selected several state and local governments to participate in drone-testing programmes, which will feed data to regulators devising a new oversight regime for unmanned aircraft.

The initiative comes as the US tries to catch up on drone regulation after complaints from business that it inhibits innovation. 

Apple was among the companies selected to participate in the programme, as the iPhone maker revealed it planned to use unmanned aerial vehicles to improve its mapping capabilities.

However, two of the companies that consumers might most closely associate with the technology — Amazon, which has been testing an airborne package delivery service in its home state of Washington; and DJI, the China-based market leader

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