Apple applies to partake in official drone programme

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Apple is the latest among a number of major firms seeking permission to partake in a drone testing programme that was announced by the US government in 2017.

With the government now accepting applications for this programme, Apple and a handful of other technology giants, including Intel, Amazon and Qualcomm are applying.

It is unclear what exactly Apple hopes to achieve by this, although firms like Amazon have said they want to use drones for deliveries.

The pilot programme will let a few firms to do a wider array of tests than what is presently allowed by US federal aviation regulations. Examples are flying drones beyond the operator’s line of sight and flying them at night.

Apart from deliveries, other possible uses for drones include precision agriculture, using drones close to airports, managing pipelines and environmental monitoring.
Only a limited number of firms will, however, be able to take part in the programme. At least 200 firms have applied, but some have formed teams – so in total there are 149 applications, of which only ten will be approved.

It is actually rather strange that Apple has applied to take part in the official drone programme. Until now the Cupertino-based company has certainly never been in the news for its support of drones. In fact, it has on more than one occasion expressed its strong dislike of drones flying over Apple Park. In 2017 the company even employed its own security force to prevent drones from flying over its headquarters.

The company has also erected a number of signs to warn that its HQ is a drone-free zone.

A while ago, however, a drone reportedly crash-landed on Apple Park’s ridiculously expensive solar roof. And drone photographer Duncan Sinfield recently had the unpleasant experience of being caught out while trying to record drone footage of Apple Park.


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