Google uses a legal loophole to piggyback on NASA to test drones in US airspace as it exempts the company from federal aviation regulations.
The partnership with NASA will enable Google to test its commercial drones dodging the federal aviation regulations, the Guardian reported Wednesday.
The US has a blanket ban on commercial operation of drones unless you have a 333 exemption. Google announced experimental delivery drones, code-named Project Wing a year ago.
333 exemption gives Google a freedom to obtain certificates of authorization (COA) that waives restrictions imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
As per a report by the Guardian, Google has been skirting these rules by flying its 'Project Wing' aircraft over private land in the US in cooperation with NASA. For more than a year, Google has been quietly operating its drones in America under NASA’s Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA), a program originally intended for government agencies.
Furthermore, the Guardian in its report says, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing suggests that Google has a direct commercial interest in the upcoming tests.
In requesting details to be redacted from the document, Google notes: “The information requested to be kept confidential has significant commercial value. Google’s tests/experiments and proprietary wireless applications using particular radio frequency equipment represent a ‘secret commercially valuable plan’.”
The company goes on to say: “The technology under development is highly sensitive and confidential in nature. The release of such information would provide valuable insight into Google’s technology innovations and potential business plans and strategies.”
Learning how futuristic drones might communicate, navigate and operate could aid similar technologies also being developed at Google’s secretive X Lab, now a part of the new Alphabet holdings.
Applying for a 333 exemption now makes sense, Greg McNeal, drone expert and associate professor of law and public policy at Pepperdine University was quoted as saying by Guardian.