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Utah is preparing for a world of flying cars and delivery drones

Posted at 3:13 PM, May 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-15 17:59:41-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Legislature is being told to prepare for a world of flying cars, delivery drones and “urban air mobility.”

At a meeting Wednesday of the legislature’s Transportation Interim Committee, the Utah Department of Transportation warned lawmakers that flying vehicles were going to be here sooner than anyone expected. In fact, they’re already being tested in other places. Delivery drones are becoming more commonplace and large-weight bearing drones (about 500 lbs.) will be in use by 2021.

UDOT’s Jason Davis said lawmakers need to prepare for it by addressing concerns about flight corridors, altitudes, airspace restrictions and other issues.

“Who’s going to own that airspace? There are companies already approaching the FAA to say, ‘We’d like to have the 600-700 foot area as our own place to operate in.’ With their being no regulations yet, it’s a real discussion taking place. How’s that going to be established?” he said.

Lawmakers did have concerns about who controls the airspace — the federal government or the state? The Transportation Committee took no action but is expected to get further briefings in the coming months.

The legislature has previously passed bills to allow for some access for delivery robots in Utah on sidewalks.