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Test Sites Chosen For Commercial Drone Testing

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Photo by AP

Buzzing to a neighborhood near you?'s Prime Air prototype may someday fly small packages right to customers' homes.

The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday unveiled the names of the six applicants who have been granted the right to test the commercial uses of "unmanned aircraft systems" -- drones.

The FAA's approvals were highly sought after because the test sites are expected to bring high-tech jobs and investments to the states where they're located. The six winners are:

-- The University of Alaska, which the FAA says proposed "a diverse set of test site range locations in seven climatic zones as well as geographic diversity with test site range locations in Hawaii and Oregon."

-- The state of Nevada, which has pledged it will take "a concentrated look at how air traffic control procedures will evolve with the introduction of UAS into the civil environment."

-- North Dakota, which offered the only test range "in the temperate (continental) climate zone and included a variety of different airspace which will benefit multiple users."

-- Texas A&M Corpus Christi, where researchers plan "to develop system safety requirements for UAS vehicles and operations with a goal of protocols and procedures for airworthiness testing."

-- Virginia Tech University, which will test and evaluate operational risks at sites in Virginia and New Jersey.

-- Griffiss International Airport in central New York State, where part of the focus will be "researching the complexities of integrating UAS into the congested, northeast airspace."

The potential commercial use of drones got a big shot of publicity earlier this month, of course, when founder Jeff Bezos said his company has been working on an airborne delivery system for packages that weigh less than 5 pounds.

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