Reno, Flirtey to take part in federal drone operations program
RENO, Nev. — U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao on May 9 announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation has selected Reno to participate in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program.
First announced last October, the federal initiative partners the Federal Aviation Administration with local, state and tribal governments, which then partner with private industry to safely explore the further integration of drone operations, according to previous reports.
“We are looking forward to helping today’s winners unlock the enormous potential of drone operations, which will create new services and jobs in their local communities,” Secretary Chao said in a May 9 statement.
In February, the city of Reno announced a coalition and application to the Pilot Program to fast-track life saving drone delivery of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) through local drone company Flirtey.
The Reno-Flirtey coalition is among 10 chosen nationally for the federal drone partnership.
“This is an opportunity to create high-paying jobs and help develop the kind of drone technology that will have a direct and positive impact on citizens of Reno,” Reno Mayor Schieve said during a May 9 press conference. “We set out to build the strongest and most diverse coalition possible in order to support a drone initiative Flirtey has already been spearheading in our community — life saving drone deliveries.”
Through the coalition, the city of Reno, with support from Reno Police Department and Reno Fire Department, has partnered with Flirtey and the following entities: AirMap; Alpine Insurance; American Red Cross; Carson City Fire Department; City of Sparks and Sparks Fire Department; FedEx; IRIS Automation; Northern Nevada Medical Center; Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA); Reno-Sparks Indian Colony; Truckee Meadows Community College (TMCC); T-Mobile; and Washoe County.
“Based on Flirtey’s analysis, we expect that just one of our drones operating in Reno will save one life every two weeks,” Flirtey CEO Matthew Sweeny said. “This model is a game-changer for the health of our communities and will prove the viability of this life saving program, which has the potential to save over one million American lives over the decades to come.
“While saving lives, we will create jobs and help make America’s drone industry great.”
According to USDOT, Reno’s coalition will demonstrate the live saving potential of AED drone delivery, create a model for future life saving applications of this technology, and help achieve the safe integration of drones into the national airspace.
Visit https://youtu.be/KCD_HMhjNMw to watch the UAS Integration Pilot Program national press conference from May 9, including the city of Reno.
The flight test in Kansas was conducted in November by Iris Automation, a Bay Area-based startup company that in 2018 selected Reno and the Innevation Center as home base for its flight-operations team.