We ran across an interesting map put together by the Electronic Frontier Foundation that displays locations where the FAA has issued permits authorizing the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones in the United States. Here is a link to an interactive version of the map with more information.
Below we have pasted some information from the map with a few details about land management agencies that have had these permits. Two of them have expired, and two are still active.
Governmental Body/Entity: California Fire Services
Type of Drone: Insight A-20
General Location of Drone Activity: Shasta, California
Stated objective/purpose of COA: To deploy the Insight A-20 in support of wildland fire defense in California for the 2008 fire season. The Insight A-20 utilizes the Insight Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with transponder and radar directional control from a command vehicle using certified pilots and a fail-safe control to either land or return the vehicle to home base in the case of loss of communications.
Effective Dates: July 3, 2008 – August 3, 2008
Governmental Body/Entity: U.S. Forest Service
Type of Drone: Raven (RQ – 11A, RQ – 11B)
General Location of Drone Activity: Missoula, MT
Stated objective/purpose of COA: Operational readiness testing for upcoming R & D tests related to Wildland fire fighting. General flights will be no more than one half mile from ground control station at around 500 feet AGL.
Effective Dates: March 13, 2008 – ?
Comments: R&D Testing for drones to fight wildfires; There appears to be approval of guidance for operations of unmanned vehicles in a memo dated 3/13/08
Governmental Body/Entity: Dept. of Interior-National Business Center/Aviation Management
Type of Drone: Unknown
General Location of Drone Activity: Boise, ID
Stated objective/purpose of COA:
Comments: Still waiting for records
Governmental Body/Entity: U.S. Dept of Agriculture
Type of Drone: BAT 3 UAS
General Location of Drone Activity: Tombstone, AZ
Stated objective/purpose of COA: The objective of this project is to acquire digital imagery from the UAS for rangeland vegetation mapping, rangeland inventory assessment and monitoring. The UAS is capable of flying at elevations that allow for mapping of vegetation and soil patterns not feasible with piloted aircraft. The project is a collaboration between USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Jornada Experimental Range and the USDA ARS Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed and Southwest Watershed Research Center. Operation of the BAT 3 UAS at 700 ft AGL for the purpose of image acquisition. The UAS will be launched/recovered from a remote field location approx. 7 miles NE of Tombstone, AZ. The flight area will be flown 3 times over a period of 3 days.
Effective Dates: 2008-2011
Comments: USDA has COAs covering 2008-2011 for various parts of the country and various types of drones. The most recent one is missing.