ArcticShark: researching the future of drone deliveries - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

ArcticShark: researching the future of drone deliveries

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PENDLETON, OR - Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL), in conjunction with multiple other government agencies and business, is test flying a 22-foot wide atmospheric drone called the ArcticShark every day through March 17th in Pendleton. But that's not the whole story.

Reporter Rex Carlin learned that the ArcticShark is being test-flown at the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport in Pendleton, and that the results of these test flights could have a far greater impact on all of our daily lives.

The most obvious reason for being there - the ArcticShark itself - which unfortunately was grounded because of bad weather for most of today.

The 22-foot wide wingspan, 625 pounds of drone is set to begin research in Alaska in 2018 to record sophisticated measurements about the Earth's atmosphere.

But the people training with the ArcticShark are looking far beyond this single aircraft.

"If you want the Amazon deliveries, the Dominos pizza deliveries by drone, ultimately cargo transport, everything that drones are going to have to do, this aircraft and the research we're doing with this aircraft helps that rule making," said Range Manager Darryl Abling. "Helps the FAA understand how these things are going to integrate seamlessly into the national airspace."

Because right now, there are many FAA regulations that need to be adjusted or changed to allow drones to co-habitate in the skies with planes and helicopters. 

They're doubling down on the ArcticShark research, using it on a larger that could change shipping and transportation as we know it.

So the next time you hear about a tech company trying to incorporate drones into their business, just know the leg work is being done in Pendleton to make that a reality.