The Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday December 30, 2013, that Texas was one of six states selected as a development site for unmanned aircraft. Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi has been designated as the research headquarters for 11 Texas test sites working to develop drones for commercial use.
The university already has been researching drones for the past two years by learning how to use them to map sea grass, detect oil spills and wildfire hotspots, monitor hurricanes and count cattle for ranchers.
The 11 Texas test sites are south of Fort Stockton, south of Fort Hood, outside College Station and several in South Texas outside Beeville and south of Corpus Christi.
The unmanned aircraft are not for military use and the test are scheduled to run until 2017. The FAA-approved test sites are the first step towards the attempt to integrate the systems into the national airspace; which Congress has mandated to take place by 2015. These unmanned aircraft whether large or small need to be completely safe and the test will help to address those issue. The centers will provide key proving grounds for drone operators to show they can operate safely, and will allow the FAA to gather data about privacy issues.