Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave the go-ahead for the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) to conduct beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations. The KDOT team, which includes Kansas State University Polytechnic, Westar Energy and Iris Automation,  will fly a nine-mile track to evaluate technologies for power line inspections in rural Kansas without monitoring the drone by visual observers or ground-based radar. Westar Energy’s senior unmanned aerial systems (UAS) coordinator said, “Being able to operate under this waiver allows the [KDOT] team the ability to research and develop truly scalable BVLOS UAS operations for the automated inspection of linear infrastructure.” KDOT hopes to conduct exponentially safer and more cost-effective inspections using drones in this manner. The goal of the KDOT team and these missions is to assist in creating a safer, scalable means for all drone operations in the national airspace.