Commercial drones to begin test flights in New Jersey

When online retailer Amazon said it was testing drones that would deliver packages, many scoffed.

But commercial drones will soon be circling New Jersey runways. The FAA has greenlighted the state to  become a test site for the unmanned flight devices.

Rutgers University will partner with Virginia Tech on its efforts to teach drones to share the skies with regular aircraft.

The test flights will begin shortly, “making sure the algorithms and the software are robust and will always be ready  to operate without a human in the system,” said Thomas Farris, dean of Rutgers school of engineering.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

It’s a first step to making drones a part of everyday commerce.

“The air traffic controllers control spacing of manned aircraft etc now as they’re landing and taking off in airports and the test sites will enable the inclusion of unmanned aircraft,” Farris explained.

The kind that could assist farmers, or … deliver packages.

States lobbied hard to be included in the early stages of drone development.

The center of testing in New Jersey will be Hughes Technical Center in Egg Harbor. The FAA also approved testing in New York, Alaska, Nevada, North Dakota and Texas.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal