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BrownfieldAgNews reports:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has named six institutions to conduct testing and help develop protocols for commercial use of drones.

Among the types of unmanned aircraft to be tested are those used for scouting farm fields for pests and possibly spot-apply pesticides if found. They could also be used to check on cattle herds.

Power companies are very interested in using small, remote controlled aircraft to inspect power lines. Police and fire departments are very interested as well.

A number universities and state economic development agencies sought to become test sites, the six chosen are:

*Griffiss International Airport near Rome, New York, will research how to prevent drones and manned aircraft from running into each other especially in the crowded Northeastern U.S.

*The University of Alaska, which plans to test in Alaska, Hawaii and Oregon and will focus on state monitoring, navigation and safety.

*The State of Nevada will work on how air traffic control will handle drones and also develop standards and certification requirements for operators.

*The North Dakota Department of Commerce will develop airworthiness data and determine the reliability of communications links between pilots and unmanned aircraft.

*Texas A&M University Corpus Christi will work to develop safety systems for drones.

*Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Rutgers University will test failure modes and technical risks for drones, to ensure they land safely if they lose connection with a pilot.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says the sites selected provide a diversity of geography, climate and air traffic density.

All systems will use GPS. Test site operators will be required to publish privacy policies, covering how they will use the data they gather and how long they will retain it, among other steps.

Congress had ordered the FAA to get the test sites with the goal of initiating the use of commercial drones in 2015.

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