Florida Loses Out On Bid For Drone Testing

Jan 2, 2014

Credit Don McCullough / Flickr CC

  Florida wasn't among six states selected Monday by the Federal Aviation Administration for drone development testing. A law approved in 2012 gave the FAA three years to develop a way drones can share airspace and Florida was among those competing for the research work.

Space Florida, the quasi-government agency, made a $1.4 million proposal to use the shuttle landing facility at Kennedy Space Center for the testing, with the goal of establishing corridors for drones to safely fly between Sunshine State cities.

"In selecting the six test site operators, the FAA considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk," the FAA announced in a release.

Space Florida's bid has been in the works since at least February but state lawmakers have been skeptical about the use of drones. In April, the Florida Legislature approved and Gov. Rick Scott quickly signed into law the "Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act” restricting law enforcement's use of drones.

The law, which went into effect in July, prevents law enforcement from using drones unless a judge has issued a warrant or unless there is a "high risk of terrorist attack" or imminent danger, such as in a case involving a missing person. 

The operators selected for the sites are: University of Alaska; state of Nevada; New York’s Griffiss; North Dakota Department of Commerce; Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi; and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.