ARLINGTON — You may see more "unmanned aircraft" flying above the skies of Tarrant County.
The University of Texas at Arlington is the first in North Texas to receive an FAA permit to conduct scientific research on drones.
Amazon recently demonstrated how a drone could be used to drop off small packages. But while the technology exists, developers say doorstep deliveries may not be as close as we think.
"In order to prove that we could utilize this technology, it has to be demonstrated that it's safe," said Michael Toscano of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. "This is all about safety; saftey is paramamount in any unmanned system."
The FAA has grounded many drones, and has only approved six major testing cites in the U.S.; one of those is in Corpus Christi.
On Monday, UT Arlington graduate students showed off their quadcopter that will soon fly outdoors legally; the FAA granted them a certificate for outdoor flights on campus.
Professors hope these students will step out of the classroom and into a growing field.
"In the first three years, when we fly into the national airspace, you're going to have a situation where you have about $14-15 billion of economic benefits, and about 72,000 new jobs," Toscano said.
While developers boast that the options for unmaned aircraft are limitless, the reality may be more narrow.
The Association for Unmaned Vehicle Systems International predicts that over the next decade, 90 percent of drone technology will be used by farmers to keep an eye on their crops.