Officials in Lee County, Florida, will soon be testing out drone technology to battle mosquitoes. The county is one of only ten sites in the country that has been approved by the federal government to test drones for various applications.
Authorities in Lee County will now be permitted to fly drones in ways that are not permitted under the current law. They can test drones at low altitudes, directly over people, and will also be allowed to test drones at night.
The Federal Aviation Administration‘s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program was created to provide the government with information on how to effectively and safely integrate UAS into the National Airspace System. The project also aims to identify the range of applications available using drone technology.
Eric Jackson is a public information officer at the Lee County Mosquito Control District in southwestern Florida. He told CNBC that the district relies heavily on aerial operations. The county already uses small aircraft and helicopters to address pest problems, which may explain why the site was chosen to participate in the federal program.
“We’ve been doing this for 60 years with aircraft dealing with mosquito issues, so I’m thinking that might have played a part,” Mr Jackson told CNBC.
The county has plans to use a 1,500-pound drone as part of its operation to combat mosquitoes. Lee County is the only site selected for the program that will use the drone technology for pest control management.
In Oklahoma, drones have been approved to monitor livestock and crops. In Nevada, the city of Reno will use drones for the time-sensitive delivery of life-saving medical equipment.
The full list of sites selected for the pilot program, as well as the groundbreaking applications that will be tested using drone technology, is available on the Federal Aviation Administration’s website.
By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer